Remembering Oak Ridge
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Terminology

Over the course of 81 years, the terminology surrounding the practices and people of the forensic division of the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care has changed drastically. As a result, you will find language on this site that today may seem odd, out of place, or even offensive by contemporary standards. As an historical project, every effort has been made to use the terminology that is appropriate to the time period under discussion, as is summarized below.

Changing Medical Terminology

Asylum-Hospital-Centre

When Penetanguishene first opened a mental health institution in 1904 under the name "Asylum for the Insane" both the terms "asylum" and "insane" had been in use by the medical, political, and lay populations of the Western world for the better part of a century. "Asylum" initially signified a place of refuge while "insanity" was a recognized disease.

In the province of Ontario, Penetanguishene was the eighth institution to carry the name "Asylum for the Insane." While it would not be the last, both terms were already under heavy debate for the stigma they held among both the medical and general populations.

Within three years of its opening, Penetanguishene replaced "asylum" with "hospital." That term would survive two other name changes before being replaced by "centre" in 1968. While not present in the official title of the institution, "hospital" remained in common usage throughout the period covered by this project.

Insane-Mentally Ill

For its part, the term "insane" remained in use for much longer. While it was dropped from Penetanguishene's title in 1919, it continued to be used to describe patients' conditions for another few decades. Its usage also persisted in the legal realm until the early 1990s.

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity-Not Criminally Responsible

In 1933 it was the "criminally insane" population who were transferred to Penetanguishene and their new building was officially titled the "Criminally Insane Building."

The legal community was arguably among the last to replace the term - individuals in Canada could be found "not guilty by reason of insanity" until 1992. It was therefore possible up until that time for a patient at Oak Ridge to both be diagnosed as "mentally ill" but sentenced in court on his "insanity." As a result of the passing of Bill C-30 which finds individuals Not Criminally Responsible on account of mental disorder (NCR), the term "insane" was finally dropped from official use.   

Changing Institutional Names

The current mental health institution in Penetanguishene has operated continuously since 1904. During that time, it has been known by six different names: 

1904 -- Asylum for the Insane, Penetanguishene

1907 -- Penetanguishene Hospital for the Insane

1919 -- Ontario Hospital, Penetanguishene (OH, Penetanguishene)

*Between 1904-1931 the institution was administered by the Office of the Inspector of Prisons and Public Charities (under the Department of the Provincial Secretary)

*From 1931 the institution was administered by the Department of Health

1966 -- Penetanguishene Psychiatric Hospital

1968 -- Mental Health Centre, Penetanguishene (MHCP)

2008 -- Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care

*The institution was divested by the Province of Ontario to the Catholic Health Corporation of Ontario in December of 2008

Since 1933, the Penetanguishene institution has operated two separate divisions:

(1) The "regional" division: providing inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services to residents of Simcoe County, Muskoka, part of Dufferin County and the southern portion of Parry Sound

(2) The "provincial" division: providing the province’s only maximum secure forensic mental health programme for clients served by both the mental health and justice systems

1933 -- The Criminal Insane Building (C.I.B.) opened as a division of the Ontario Hospital, Penetanguishene. Although administrators suggest in their annual report that the facility will be known as "Nepahwan" (meaning place or haven of rest), it never catches on. The building is instead known interchangeably as the C.I.B. or simply "the New Building"

ca. 1960s -- Building is renamed "Oak Ridge"

2014 -- The Oak Ridge building closes and the forensic division is moved to the Atrium Building