Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ghost Story Series: Entry 5

Saskatchewan's Mental Hospitals

North Battleford

Called the North Battleford Hospital, this is a mental hospital that back in the early 1900′s was totally self sufficient. All staff and patients lived and died on the grounds.  This building was the first mental facility in the province.

Being the location is on the edge of northern forest, the hospital’s backdrop looks onto a wonderful area of the province.  Which over the years has become incredibly haunted.
North Battleford

By 1929, with approximately 1,000 patients in each institution, the overcrowding became deplorable. Patients were deteriorated and unclean. The only clothing they wore were strong dresses made of canvas. They slept on beds sometimes two to a bed, sometimes the odd one under a bed.

There is an old cemetery hidden away in over grown brush that on many nights lights and sounds are seen and heard.  Whispers can be heard from behind the gravestones but when you look behind the stone nobody is there.

There was also a wing of the hospital that burned down in the early 1930′s and one of the patients was badly burned in the fire. She died a few days later and her ghost can be seen wandering the burned out wing at night.

The hospital is also connected to all the buildings on the grounds via underground tunnels that many staff have mentioned passing by people in these tunnels who simply vanish once you pass them.

It’s been said that those who go to the hospital are left with chills running up and down their spine.  Especially at night.  You never know who may be watching you!

Weyburn Hospital

The next hospital in Saskatchewan we’ll take a look at is in Weyburn.  Weyburn rests on the banks of the Souris River in south eastern Saskatchewan.

The building is the second oldest mental institution in Saskatchewan.  Opened in 1921, it was, at the time, the largest building in the British Empire.  It’s construction was directly affected by overcrowding in the hospital in North Battleford.

During the 1930′s an investigation into patient care took place.  What was discovered was the practices used by the doctors were inhumane and cruel. However, the mental institution remained open.
When the facility first opened, mental illness was poorly understood and the primary methods of treatment consisted of ‘work and water.’ A lot of them worked at the laundry and in the kitchen and in the gardens. They were just glad to have things to do.

One of the favored treatments of the 1860′s was the Water Cure, in which a patient would be immersed naked into a tub of icy water and then taken to a tub of scalding water after their body temperature had sufficiently lowered. In addition, female patients, received a cold water douche, administered with a hose and then they were wrapped tightly in wet sheets to squeeze the blood vessels shut. This was followed by vigorous rubbing to restore circulation. The “treatments” were administered several times each week but not surprisingly, such techniques brought little success and most of the patients never got better.

Other treatments used at the hospital were not so benign. In an attempt to control and treat patients, methods such as insulin therapy, electroshock and lobotomies were practiced.

Although invasive, these methods were driven by a desperate need to help patients who were often a danger to themselves and others. Later, other therapies came into practice.

The fourth floor is sealed off, but people still hear voices from there, and some have said to have seen a woman in the fourth floor window.  She walks back and forth, back and forth, all night.

The building is in the very middle of thick trees. At night it has been reported that people have heard voices in the trees.

Currently, the hospital is scheduled for demolition.

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