Architect John Howard's "Provincial Lunatic Asylum" as it would have appeared in the 19th Century.
1001 Queen Street West has been home to a mental health facility for 150 years. On January 26, 1850, the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, as it was then known, first opened its doors. Throughout the years there have been numerous name changes – the Toronto Lunatic Asylum, the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, "999 Queen Street", and the Queen Street Mental Health Centre. The site was a provincial psychiatric hospital operated by the Government of Ontario until 1998 when the provincial psychiatric hospitals began to be transformed into public hospitals.
CAMH was created as a result of a 1997 report of the Health Services Restructuring Committee (HSRC), an independent agency appointed by the Government of Ontario to redesign the Ontario health system. In 1998, the former Addiction Research Foundation, the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, and the Donwood Institute merged to create a new public hospital: the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, which is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. CAMH was asked by the HSRC to address four key challenges: quality of care, access to care, fragmentation of services, and stigma.
The organizational merger of CAMH was a first step in addressing these challenges and developing strategies to improve client/patient care. Now, the redevelopment provides an opportunity for CAMH to consolidate onto the Queen Street site and continue to address these challenges further.
To view some historical photos of the Queen Street site, click here.
For a chronological look at the history of the Queen Street site, go to Historical Chronology of the Queen Street Site.
Justice Robert Montgomery talks about his childhood memories of 999 Queen Street, as it was then known. Justice Montgomery's anecdotes give insight into the enduring importance of advancing treatment and battling stigma for transforming the lives of those with mental illness and addictions.
History and the Heritage Wall
The 27 acres of land on the Queen Street site has been dedicated as space for treating mental illness for over 150 years, initially as the Provincial Lunatic Asylum; and, CAMH will continue to use the land for the same purpose. CAMH plans to maintain the walls around the Queen Street Site and two historic buildings as a connection to our history.
CAMH has executed a Heritage Easement Agreement with the City of Toronto to govern the long-term repair and maintenance of the wall. Repair and conservation work on the wall will be directed by the Heritage Conservation Strategy, which was developed by one of Toronto’s leading heritage architecture firms (ERA architects). The Western section of the wall was repaired in conjunction with the construction of Phase 1A of the redevelopment.
The overall philosophy with respect to the wall is one of minimum intervention. We do not wish to modernize or alter the historical character of the wall. Instead, the plan is to effect repairs so that the wall will remain both stable and authentic for the future.
Interested in the history of the wall? More information can be found at History of the Heritage Wall.