This site was built in 1888 and opened in January of 1889 as the Mimico Asylum. It was built to alleviate overcrowding at the 999 Queen St W asylum. This site was built specifically to house those patients considered incurable; that would spend their entire lives in an institution.
The campus was designed not to feel like an institution, with cottages and gardens, rather than a massive imposing gothic building. This facility was the first asylum based on the cottage formula built in Canada.
As was becoming the norm for asylums, the patients worked – putting up some of the buildings, tending the landscaping etc – and were not paid for their labour as it was seen as therapeutic and part of their treatment.
Cottages 1 – 5 in the south end of the institution were for female patients. Cottages A – E were for the male patients.
In the early part of the 20th century overcrowding became an issue at all of the asylums; with the worst being during the 1930’s in the Great Depression. Funding also began to drop off which, combined with overcrowding, lead to a steady decline in patient care.
This also led to a steady increase in violence in the asylum.
In 1959 forced patient labour was ended and the path toward de-institutionalization began.
In 1964 the site was renamed the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.
On September 1, 1979 the hospital was shut down with a promise of outpatient clinics at the Queen St location that never materialized. Ultimately, the decision to close the hospital was a monetary one; the site needed extensive work to modernize it and the government wasn’t willing to spend the money.
In truth most of the patient population suddenly released from the psychiatric hospital would become part of the homeless problem that still plagues the Toronto area.
The site remained abandoned until 1991 when Humber College signed a 99 year lease and converted the dilapidated buildings into its Lakeshore Campus.
Humber College is not friendly about the haunting and will not discuss it or allow any investigations.
Many people report a feeling of heaviness and/or negativity and fear over the site.
The apparition of a former nurse has been reported in the tunnels under the complex. She is reported as moving much faster than any human could – this happens most often when she rounds a corner or is otherwise out of sight briefly. Generally, she is seen only from behind but those few lucky to see her facing towards say she has no face.
The ghost of a female patient in Building F – where the morgue once was – is said to announce her presence with the phantom smell of flowers. She is also said to be friendly.
Many apparitions have been seen in the buildings – often looking out the windows. When the buildings were being converted into classrooms there are a number of stories by security going into buildings they saw someone in only to find it empty when there was no possibility of leaving without being seen.
Our team did have a chance to do a series of investigations on the grounds and in buildings not yet renovated. What follows is a list of what we experienced:
Misty apparitions moving quickly in the buildings.
Phantom footsteps in the building including one incident where the footsteps seemingly responded to the ringing of a bell the police used to use to bring in patients. In this case the footsteps stopped just inside the door – we were outside and it was locked – and then banged repeatedly on the door from the inside. The building was confirmed empty at the time.
A cloud of mist that seemed to come through a window above an investigator who was looking in.
Unexplained noises such as disembodied voices, phantom laughter, loud bangs, sighs, breathing and whispers.
Faces appearing in windows both looking out from inside and in from outside.
Feelings of being watched and not being wanted as well as a certain heaviness at times.
One of the most alarming episodes – which may or may not have been a coincidence – was glass from a window falling from the upper story and nearly hitting an investigator. There was a loud noise that sounded like a scream causing us all the look up. The glass fell from the top window and shattered on the ground alarmingly close to an investigator.
Other Activity Reported by Third Parties: apparitions of both former staff and patients; objects moving on their own; disembodied voices; unexplained noises; light anomalies; shadow figures; misty forms; cold spots; touches by unseen entities and feelings of being watched, not being alone and not being wanted.