Article-Annapolis County’s New Insane Asylum

“The interior contains ninety-one rooms, as follows – The basement or ground floor contains two general workrooms, one 36×14 ft., and one 24×14 feet; two furnace and fuel rooms, one 11×25 feet, and one 11×18 ft.,..two halls, 36×7 ft., and two halls 6x18ft…two bathrooms fitted up with a tub and three wash basins in each and from either of which may be obtained cold or hot water. There is also one room fitted up for a cell to confine refractory inmates, 11×8 ft. 

The first story or flat contains 8 wards 10×9 ft with 9 foot ceilings…two water closets

The second story contains eight wards, 10×9 ft and two water closets…

The attic or third flat contains 12 wards 12×14 ft, two water closets and…two rooms in towers 6×6 ft…”

This is just a very small part of the description written about “Annapolis County’s New Insane Institution” in an undated article in the Bridgetown Weedly Monitor. Denise Rice came across a photocopy of this article. What she did not realize was that the back page of the photocopy not only gave us the time of year (Easter) but also contained a letter to the editor. It is a long letter and include the following excerpts:

Plans and specifications were prepared and tender called for building same, the lowest ender being of the vicinity of $9,000…A resolution was passed to this effect: That the committee modify the plan and specification so as the building could be erected….not cost(ing) over six thousand dollars…a sum, Mr. Editor, that would be more than ample for that purpose when you consider at the present time we have about fifteen in that institution.

Reading over the rooms, the size of the rooms and the number, I did think “Wow! They are expecting a LOT of harmless insane people from the county to be housed here.” Of course, poor people would be housed here as well as we not only criminalized poverty but also questioned the mental health of those in poverty. As poverty puts a great stress on those in it, it creates poor mental health. This is a cycle that continues today.

The building ended up costing $10,000. The article applauds Annapolis County with this line “…the people of Annapolis county of this generation certainly rank high, for they have taken the load among the people of the province in establishing institutions for the poor and the insane which speak loudly of their generosity and christian philanthropy.”

To which I cannot help but ask the question, What was making the people of Annapolis County poor and ‘harmless insane’? Rather than only dealing with the outcome, find the source of the problem.

But that is a question and philosophy we are still grappling with today…in 2019.

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4 thoughts on “Article-Annapolis County’s New Insane Asylum

  1. It seems as if the Federal government, didn’t put much thought (intentionally) into Nova Scotia and the other maritime provinces. They all still suffer to this day.
    Society always prefers to bandaid a problem, then actually get to the root and fix it. We never learn.

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  2. I don’t know how accurate this is, cause I’m from Bridgetown. And I’ve never heard of there being a hospital there, and if it did, it’s been long removed cause there no evidence of this building existing there

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    1. You have not heard of it so it must not exist? Look into the history of your town a bit deeper. This is why I wrote about poor houses; because we have not recorded much about these “Mansions of Woe” as Joseph Howe called them. The Bridgetown Poor Asylum, which also doubled as a hospital, certainly existed. There are several photos taken of the buildings. Mountain Lea Lodge was built on the remains of the poor house. There is also a cairn in the fields in the back where the residents were buried in unmarked graves. Take a closer look next time you walk or drive by.

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