Status: Former Insane Asylum; Almost Completely Demolished; Only One Building Remaining
The full campus before it was demolished
Century Manor photo from Pinterest
The Hamilton Asylum for the Insane was originally designed as a home for alcoholics but the alcoholics never came.
However, the population of the mentally ill – whom most people in the 19th century (in their ignorance) assumed were drunks anyway – was increasing. Or rather society was becoming more aware just how many mentally ill people needed some form of care.
The asylum opened in 1876 on 576 acres on the brow of Hamilton Mountain. The massive Victorian castle like building that hovered over the city from 1876 to 1976 was called the Barton Building.
This institution also housed those deemed too insane to stand trial for their crimes.
The asylum – like most others in this time period – was completely self-sufficient with lands farmed by the patients as well as a bakery and butcher shop that keep their own cows and pigs.
The asylum was only accessible by the gravel road at this point. Families used to drive up for picnics on the asylum grounds with the patients unknowingly providing the entertainment. It was considered normal to taunt the patients and laugh at them. Even to throw things at them to make them perform.
The initial capacity of the asylum was just over 200 patients that came from Hamilton, Wellington, Simcoe, Peel, Halton, Waterloo, Norfolk and Lincoln Regions.
On November 1, 1884 the East Building – now called Century Manor and the only building still standing was opened for room for 60 chronic patients.
In January of 1888 the Orchard Building with room for 300 more patients was opened. The building was demolished in 1971.
In 1902 a psychiatric nursing school was opened on site that graduated 240 nurses before it closed in 1976.
By 1909 the asylum had the beds for 1,200 patients.
The facility was closed in 1995; at that point Century Manor was the only surviving building on the asylum grounds.
Century Manor still stands but it is completely sealed off; entering the building is trespassing. Since it’s closure in 1995 it’s only been opened once; that being during Doors Open Hamilton in 2009.
It is now owned by Infrastructure Ontario who very rarely allows anyone inside although there are rumours that they’ll rent it for a very exorbitant price (like a $1,000 a day).
In 2018 there were plans to sell it to Mohawk College for use as a residence, but that plan fell through.
The system of tunnels that ran underneath the entire complex of the asylum is still there under the ground. There’s even a tunnel under Mohawk College which connects with the Cellar pub.
There are numerous stories of people having paranormal encounters in the tunnel system.
The most disturbing is a security guard who opened the door into a room down there to find 2 older women dressed in out dated nurse’s uniforms sitting at a table. One looked at him and, “see I told you he’d find us”.
The guard was so scared he just closed the door and upon opening it again found a completely empty room although there were no other exits from the room.
There are a few stories of objects moving on their own in the building itself. The movement is not seen, rather objects just appear in places witnesses know they weren’t earlier. One story is off a metal bed pan that appeared in a hallway which was empty and then the hallway was empty again when they returned.
There are also many encounters on the grounds where the former buildings once were. The Barton Building itself was gigantic before it was torn down. These include apparitions; unexplained mists; light anomalies; sudden winds and cold spots.
Other reported activity: apparitions of former patients and staff; shadow figures; touches, tugs and pulls by unseen entities; time slips; electrical disturbances; disembodied voices; unexplained noises from loud bangs to soft whispers; phantom footsteps; phantom screams and cries and feelings of being watched, not being alone and not being wanted.