In 1911, the architect, James Govan, working with a team of advisory psychiatrists, physicians and government officials, presented his design for the Whitby Hospital.
One of the most refreshing aspects of the new mental health facility was the physical site situated 50 km east of Toronto. Purchased by the Provincial Government early in 1912, the grounds originally consisted of 640 acres of treed and fertile farmland that sloped gently to Lake Ontario. The hospital offered patients fresh air, sunshine, space to walk and an opportunity to heal.
In 1914, war broke out, and while construction on the hospital continued, progress slowed. Over the next two years, however, as more and more buildings were completed, doctors transferred psychiatric patients from Toronto facilities.
By February 1917, large numbers of soldiers were returning from overseas. Many were badly wounded and needed intense, long-term treatment. Since general hospitals were not equipped to meet such needs, the Military Hospitals Commission made arrangements to lease patient cottages for the purpose of treating wounded soldiers.
On October 23, 1994, the hospital celebrated 75 years of service to patients, their families and the communities with a rapidly growing primary service area of over 2.2 million people. The public joined in the celebrations held on the hospital grounds. The theme of the event was "A Proud Past, A Progressive Future" recognizing the hospital’s tradition of quality service and its dynamic future. On this occasion the facility was renamed Whitby Mental Health Centre.
The facility was designed with eight interconnected buildings, separated by easily accessible landscaped courtyards and linked by a 1,400 foot interior corridor. The use of skylights, windows and glass allow sunlight into a multitude of areas. Upon completion, the structure's roof was the largest zinc installation anywhere in the world and is not expected to require maintenance for the next 100 years. Eleven large artwork commissions, displayed throughout the facility, provide beauty and assist with orientation.
In 1997 the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care recommended the hospital and eight other provincial psychiatric hospitals divest and operate under the Public Hospital Act. In these recommendations, the hospital was slated to become a stand-alone corporation and the other eight hospitals were divested to existing hospital corporations.
On June 10, 2009 the hospital revolutionized its visual identity to better suit its goals and vision. The new name, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, works on many levels to represent Ontario Shores’ role, mission, vision and values. A new era in mental health care had begun.
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