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History of Queen Street Site Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Historical Chronology of CAMH's Queen Street Site

The 1800s

1846: Construction begins for the first ‘Provincial Lunatic Asylum’ on a 50 acre portion of the Garrison Reserve (Military property). The architect was John George Howard.

August 22, 1846: The official laying of the cornerstone by the Honourable Chief Justice John Beverly Robinson.

January 26, 1850: Provincial Lunatic Asylum opens its doors to its first 211 patients, transferred from the Temporary Asylum, which was housed in a former jail on King Street.

1851: The Toronto architecture firm of Cumberland and Ridout is engaged to design a wall with lodges and an entrance gate around the asylum.

1853-1875: Dr. Joseph Workman is the asylum’s Medical Superintendent.

1866-1869: Newly constructed east and west wings add to main asylum building to try to ease severe overcrowding.

1871-1905: The name of the asylum is now ‘Asylum for the Insane, Toronto’.

1888-1889: Following the government’s sale of 23 acres of the site for development, the east and west walls are moved and rebuilt using original materials. The site is now 27 acres, the size it is today.


1889: Two new brick workshop buildings (extant) are constructed for use by staff and patients.

1891: A new ‘Asylum for the Insane, Mimico’ opens as a branch of the Queen Street asylum.


The 1900s

1905-1911: Dr. Charles Kirk Clarke, Medical Superintendent of the now named ‘Hospital for the Insane, Toronto’ recommends selling and relocating the overcrowded, poorly maintained facility, without success.

1919: A new facility in Whitby opens to replace the one on Queen Street; however, both continue to be utilized.

1919: Now named the ‘Ontario Hospital, Toronto’.

1954: Construction of a new Queen Street Administration Building begins.

1956: The Queen Street Administration Building is complete.

  The Ministry of Health announces plans to replace the Queen Street asylum structures with new buildings on the same site.

1966: Name changes to ‘Queen Street Mental Health Centre’.

1970: Construction of new units begins.

1972: Active Treatment Units 1 and 2 and the Paul Christie Community Centre open.

1974: Active Treatment Units 3 and 4 are complete.

1976: The 1850 asylum building is demolished.

1978: The former Superintendent’s Residence (later Nurses’ Residence) is demolished.

1979:  The Joseph Workman Auditorium opens.

1979: The infamous ‘999 Queen Street’ address changes to 1001 in an effort to symbolically disconnect the new centre from its stigmatized past.

1979:  The ‘Asylum for the Insane, Mimico’, renamed as the ‘Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital’ in 1966, is closed and partly re-merges with Queen Street.

1997: The Health Services Restructuring Commission (HSRC) releases its report, which includes changes to addictions and mental health care.

1998: The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is formed from the merger of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, the Addiction Research Foundation, and the Donwood Institute. 

2000 to Present

1999-2001: CAMH’s founding President and CEO, Dr. Paul Garfinkel initiates comprehensive ‘visioning’ workshop sessions and consultations with hundreds of key stakeholders. Study recommends the creation of a central hub for CAMH at the Queen Street site.

2001: The Vision and Master Plan outline the transformation of the Queen Street site into an ‘urban village’ – a mix of CAMH and non-CAMH uses with parks and new through streets fully integrated with the larger community.

2001: The C3 Consortium (Montgomery Sisam Architects, Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, and Kearns Mancini Architects) is selected for architecture/engineering of the new CAMH.

2002: A Facilities Master Plan and CAMH’s updated Functional Program are submitted to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for approval.

2004: The Ministry approves CAMH’s updated Functional Program.

2004: CAMH’s plan to create an integrated community wins excellence awards from the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute. 


2005: Together, CAMH and Urban Strategies receive the City of Toronto Architecture and Urban Design Awards’ Honourable Mention.

2005: The Province announces approval and funding for Phase 1A of CAMH’s Queen Street redevelopment.

April 6, 2006: The official groundbreaking for Phase 1A inaugurates the start of construction for this first phase of the Queen Street Redevelopment Project.

April 7, 2008: The four new buildings of Phase 1A have been completed and are operational.



June 26, 2008: CAMH celebrates with a grand opening of Phase 1A of its Redevelopment Project, ‘Transforming Lives Here’.

July 4, 2008: Infrastructure Ontario announces a Request-for-Quote (RFQ) for companies to submit their qualifications to design, build, finance, and maintain the next phase – Phase 1B – of CAMH’s Redevelopment Project.

May 2009: A Phase 1A building is officially named, The McCain Building after Michael McCain and his family in recognition of their support of the CAMH Redevelopment Project; the first ever building to be named after a donor.

June 15, 2009: Following a competitive process for the first non-CAMH building on-site, CAMH accepts a letter of intent from Forum/Verdiroc to lease CAMH property to develop and operate a mixed-use building, including affordable housing and street-level retail.

June 27, 2009: CAMH’s Phase 1A receives the International Academy for Design and Health’s 2009 Academy Award for Mental Health Design.

September 25, 2009: Today, the official inauguration of the Paul E. Garfinkel Park takes place. This park is the northeast block of the site that, earlier this spring, CAMH handed over to the City of Toronto as a public park.

October 29, 2009:  Decommissioning ceremony for the 1956 Administration Building.

December 18, 2009: Carillion Health Solutions is awarded the contract to design, build, finance, and maintain the Phase 1B buildings.

February 24, 2010: Demolition of the 1956 Administration Building, to make way for Phase 1B construction, begins.

April 6, 2010: Official groundbreaking ceremony for Phase 1B.

September 2010: Forum/Verdiroc begins construction on the first non-CAMH building, located at Queen Street West and Ossington Avenue. For more information, go to New Neighbours in the Urban Village.

September 17, 2010: Unveiling ceremony of nine memorial plaques installed along the CAMH historic wall in honour of asylum patients whose labour was used to build the wall.

October 7, 2010: CAMH launches a street naming contest to name ‘New Street’, one of five new public streets being created as part of the Redevelopment Project to connect the site with the surrounding community.

January 11, 2011: CAMH celebrates the 'Topping Off' of the Gateway Building – one of the three new buildings of Phase 1B – a tradition on construction sites, signifying that the highest point of a building has been reached. The event is also depicted in this video.

May 11, 2011: The CAMH Foundation announces that it has exceeded its goal of $100 million for the Transforming Lives Campaign, raising more than $108 million, with the help of a $10 million gift from Bell Canada. The announcement includes the naming of the Bell Gateway Building.

June 22, 2011: CAMH receives street naming approvals from the City of Toronto to apply the name Stokes Street to New Street, in honour of Professor Aldwyn B. Stokes; and to rename Freedom Street to Lower Ossington Avenue.

September 8, 2011:Shoppers Drug Marthas agreed to be an anchor tenant in the new non-CAMH building - the Ossington-Queen Street Rental Apartments.

September 27, 2011: On September 23, Premier Dalton McGuinty visited CAMH with news of the approval of the third phase of CAMH’s visionary Queen Street Redevelopment Project.

November 16, 2011: The Beamish and Labatt families were recognized​with a wing of the Intergenerational Wellness Centre being named after each family.

April 23, 2012: A mosaic art project to be displayed in the new Intergenerational Wellness Centre becomes a community collaboration. 

June 21, 2012: Outdoor Grand Opening Celebration marks the official opening of the three new CAMH buildings of Phase 1B of the Redevelopment Project. CAMH also hosts the dedication of the cornerstone of the new Bell Gateway Building, along with an unveiling of the return of the 1846 Cornerstone Plaques from the original 'Provincial Lunatic Asylum.


September 2012: CAMH physicians, collectively known as The Associates, are honoured for their contributions to CAMH as the Utilities and Parking Building at 101 Stokes Street is named the Doctors Association Building.

November 9 2012: Opening of Affordable Housing Building on CAMH property at 100 Lower Ossington

2013: The silver cornerstone plaques from the 1846 'Provincial Lunatic Asylum,' long thought to be lost, are returned to CAMH and hung from the Legal Hearing Room.

March, 2015: The first step in the procurement process for the third phase of the redevelopment project, Phase 1C, to build two new hospital buildings right on Queen Street West.
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