The land upon which the Mimico Branch Asylum was built, “Broken Front,” consisted of Lots 5 and 6. They were among the first to be surveyed to be acquired in the Township of Etobicoke. Lot 5 was first bought from the Crown by Daniel Stewart in 1804. Later, it was in the possession of the Goldthrope family who operated a farm here until 1888, when Benjamin Goldthrope sold to the Crown for $2,000.
Lot 6 was deeded to Samuel Smith, Esquire, by the Crown in 1806. When he died in 1833, it passed through the hands of various investors. The last of these investors was Hugh McNeil, who purchased the property in 1849. Upon his death around 1860, the land became the possession of his son, Hugh J. McNeil. He mortgaged it to secure his brother’s interest in 1880 and continually remortgaged it until 1901 when he finally defaulted on his payments. Two years later, his creditor turned it over to the collections agent who quickly sold it to the Crown, and subsequnetly the patients began to farm it.
By 1888, the Administration Building in the centre has been constructed, along with six cottages, all using unpaid patient labour. Three southern cottages house female patients, while the other three, north of the Administration Building, provide accomodation for male patients. Notice the physical isolation of the asylum in relation to the nearby community.
Between 1888 and 1892, patients continue to expand the physical plant of the asylum, which now includes the Administration Building, five cottages for female patients, another five for male patients (the last one on each side is intended for the criminally insane patients, containing only single occupancy cells, both built in 1892), the Carriage House (1892), the cricket oval (1896), the Gatehouse (1893 or 1910), the Superintedent’s Residence (later known as the Cumberland House, 1896), the Assembly Hall (used for religious worship as well as entertainment, 1898), the Centre Building (multiple purposes, including carpentry shop, fire hall and staff bedrooms, the date of construction is unknown), and various storage facilities, located just west of the asylum.
By 1936, all of the construction has been completed. It includes the erection of Lake House, which was erected in 1912 in order to provide on-site housing for staff, as well as the Power House (1930 or 1937), additional storage facilities, sewage disposal, and two separate pavillions for male and female patients, located near the shore.
In 1903, the Government of Ontario acquired the 76-acre farm of H.J. McNeil, a provincial creditor, located on the lot just west of the asylum grounds. This land was to be cultivated by the patients as a form of therapy, and, therefore, they were uncompensated. In 1931, due to the severe overcrowding of the asylum, extensions are constructed on Cottages 1, 2 and A, B, joining them together. This map also provides a good outline of the underground tunnel network.
This is what the asylum looks like just a few years prior to the closing on September 1, 1979. Some structures have been changed purposes and have been subsequently renamed. The Superintendent’s Residence is now a school, attended by the patients from the Child and Adolescent Unit. The Nurses’ Residence has become the Humber Building, and the Moorhouse, a patient lounge, was opened April 20, 1968.
The grounds of the asylum just a year before closing. Farming is discontinued in the 1950s and the former McNeil farm is later sold to the Teachers’ College
The grounds of the asylum in the early 1990s, most likely during the transfer of the land to Humber College, which constructed the present Lakeshore Campus. The former orchard, still surviving today, is visible in the southwest corner of Lakeshore Boulevard West and Kipling Avenue.
This map allows you to consult the approximate location and description of each building.