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Fragments of History: Discover these Never-Before-Seen Features of the Former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital

Each of the heritage cottage buildings on the east side of Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus contain traces of their original use. Although many of the structures are renovated, the attic spaces above H and F cottages include the most intact features from the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. Today, these spaces are used as storage for Humber facilities and HVAC equipment, and are rarely open to the public because their location makes them inaccessible. The old Administration building, today the Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship, is the only building with fully renovated attics. 

A unique space on campus, the attic of H building hosts the remnants of a washroom and shower. Pictured above, two walls meet the wooden beams of the attic, while a hole in the brick wall behind the shower reveals the area of unsolid floor. Original chipped brick wraps around this cramped corner; there is a drain in the centre of the floor, just under a newly installed wooden plank. 

Between wooden support beams and insulation are original room numbers, today long out of use and not referenced in the College’s system. Both the soft yellow paint and the plaque in the doorway indicating that this was room 2-327 date to the hospital’s operation. 

This area of unrenovated attic space is located behind rooms of grey and white HVAC equipment in Humber’s F building. The area’s inaccessibility makes it an unlikely place to find such an explosion of colourful graffiti!

In the years following the hospital’s closure, the province had no official tenant to occupy and maintain the site before Humber College came onto the scene. While occasional film crews made use of the campus and the grounds to film, many community members recall entering these abandoned spaces. This bold red, blue, and green graffiti was likely painted sometime between 1979 and 1989. It is an extensive job, wrapping around the interior walls of this room and on the walls around the corner. 

The presence of these spaces holds great significance -- not only do they give insights on the history of the buildings, but also the character of the community and a multitude of meanings vibrantly layered onto the history of the site. The structures that make up our everyday life on campus once did the same for people in the past. In this way we can hold on to these stories and feelings that connect us through time.

Editor's Note: Photographs of these spaces and more are currently on display "Witnesses of the Past", a free exhibition in the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre’s Third Floor Gallery at 2 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive.

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