The Weyburn Mental Hospital

For many years it seemed like the Weyburn Mental Hospital was a secret. This huge institution existed 100km away from me and I never heard of it till I found a small article on it in 2002. Below is the article I found.

"The Weyburn Mental Hospital opened in 1921 and quickly became one of Canada's most notorious psychiatric institutions. It was the site of lobotomies, electric shock therapy, and some of Canada's controversial LSD experiments. It was here that Dr. Humphrey Osmond coined the word "psychedelic." Virtually anywhere across Canada, if you mentioned you were from Weyburn, there would always be somebody who would know about the hospital and say, 'Oh,' and make some comment about either your own mental health or the mental health of the community, or just a joke about mental illness," remembers Schultz. In 1971, the Weyburn Mental Hospital closed its doors and patients were transferred to other institutions."

I first visited the hospital in 2004 when it was still open. Although it was nothing like it once was. In the 1950ís there was over 2000 patients in this facility. When I first visited, there were approx 300 patients in what was called the Souris Valley Extended Care Centre which was made up of two floors of one wing. Parts of the hospital were used for other things including a daycare. Areas were used for offices and administration for Sun Country Regional Health Authority. Even in 2004 large parts of the hospital were mothballed and unused. In 2004 construction began on a new facility that was going to house the remaining 300 patients of the former Weyburn Mental Hospital.

I spent over 5 years documenting the end of this facility. In 2005 as the new facility was nearing completion they began boarding up one of the wings on the old building. In late 2005 I found an advertisement in the Leader Post listing the facility for sale. The facility was listed for 5 million and included the main building (500,000 Square feet), the power / heating plant and 80 acres of land, however there were no takers. I visited the facility again in early 2006 and found the building was almost completely boarded up, but it still had power and heat. In 2007 the facility was sold by the government to a Chinese company for $1. The company had 1 year to begin construction on converting the hospital into a distribution centre. By early 2008 the deal had fallen through and the building became property of the city of Weyburn. It was sometime in late 2007 or early 2008 that the power and heat was cut.

By May 2008 the facility was showing signs of vandalism. It was starting to become a nuisance for the police to keep vandals out of the buildings. We made our first entry that summer and a follow up visit in the fall. By the time we made our second trip inside the buildings we found doors wide open and ran into kids skipping school from the high school nearby in the building. We spent close to 10 hours in the building and we didnít get to see it all. Most of my photography is quick snapshots as I always planned to come back to take better photos. We came back again in fall 2008 and found every door on the main level had been welded shut. A few weeks later the buildings were fenced off and abatement began. By early spring 2009 demolition commenced and the building was completely down by July 2009. As I write this in January 2010 they are just completing the clean up of the site.

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Discovery / Scouting 2004 Second Trip Feb 2005

Third Visit Jan 2006 Fourth Visit May 2008

Entry number 1 Aug 2008 Entry number 2 Sept 2008

Locked Out Oct 2008 Abatement 2008

Demolition 2009 Demolition 2009 Part II

What Remains Now (Dec 2009)

CBC Video about the demolition of Weyburn Mental Hospital
Not the greatest quality but still interesting

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