SCENE & UNSEEN
Exploring South Etobicoke’s hidden stories through Postcards
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Transcription: "I dont think you have these … oct - 8 Dear Friend. Your P.C. received O.K. but it takes you a mighty long time to ans, no [?] [?] ? ? Charley’s ?I will be pleased to have uve did you hear about Bert Ross she is very sick her sister says she has gastric canker [?] suffers dreadful palor her sister went to see her yesterday + she told me this morning the [Dr] said Bert had very symptoms of typhoid fever. I don’t know whether this is all gospel or ..."
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Recognize Humber’s G Building? We have eleven copies of this postcard that feature the “Grounds and Office Building, Mimico Asylum Toronto, Canada” in our collection! The image shows the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital’s Administration Building, facing south. The picture emphasizes the lush gardens and iconic red brick cottages that are a signature of the Lakeshore Grounds and campus to this day.
This card includes the original tower that once stood above the entrance to the Administration Building. This building once held a reception area, the Superintendent’s office, and bedrooms for the nursing staff of the hospital. The tower was a distinct element of the design but did not serve a practical purpose. As a result of years of deterioration and potential safety hazards, the tower was removed in 1954.
Not pictured are the people who lived and worked at the Institution. In 1909, when the image on the postcard was first published, the Mimico Asylum reported 615 patients in their annual report - more than 100 persons over the physical capacity of the buildings. The overcrowding would only grow in the years that followed, reaching a peak of 1,542 patients in 1939.
This image was made possible by the very people who were removed from the scene. The Cottage buildings at Lakeshore Campus were first constructed in 1889. The bricks used were made by individuals who were incarcerated at the Toronto Central Prison; while male patients of the Toronto and Mimico Asylums contributed to the construction of the buildings and tunnels. These same patients maintained the grounds, gardens, and farmland for the institution as part of their treatment.
Of the eleven postcards in our collection of the “Grounds and Office Building, Mimico Asylum Toronto, Canada,” eight were sent with written messages. None of these messages make any reference to the image - or to the people whose work is featured but who are missing from the image. Taken at face value, the human experience is removed, leaving only the aesthetics of the site.
As you explore further, consider what - or who - is unacknowledged or removed from the scenes featured on each postcard. What story do the images tell? What story do they obscure?
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