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September 25, 2013

Graves of Deceased Residents Mixed Up in Institution Once Called Institute for Feeble-Minded

 Graves of Deceased Residents Mixed Up in Institution Once Called Institute for Feeble-Minded
The Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia Ontario (Canada) was once called the Hospital for the Feeble-Minded. 4246 deaths were recorded at the institution from 1876 to 1971, when the facility stopped burying residents on-site. About 2,000 people were laid to rest on the hospital grounds, 1,440 in unmarked or numbered graves. [FN1]

A recent class action settlement between the Province of Ontario and previous residents of the Centre resulted in an agreement to provide a Registry of Deaths. It is not clear if this registry will be made public. 

When a resident died and was buried on the Institute grounds, a small numbered marker was all that was erected. There were no names recorded. Eventually many of those numbered markers were removed and used to create a sidewalk. In the 1980s a chaplain had the markers taken up and laid in a large square so that they formed a memorial rather than being used for a walkway. 

But those who died have been, for the most part, forgotten. Their actual burial locations are not known. The handwritten register contains the names of the deceased along with their burial number but there are many errors. Some numbers have been assigned to two different people. 

The Toronto Star obtained a copy of the death register under the Freedom of Information Act but it is unlikely they will publish the names. I do not know the legal ramifications of obtaining a copy but I am going to attempt to find out if I can obtain a copy and if is then legal for me to publish the names on Olive Tree Genealogy

FN1: Toronto Star Sept.24, 2013. Identities of unnamed dead at Huronia Regional Centre emerge.

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Dawn said...

Thanks for your looking into this, I think it's important. Good luck, hope you have success!

Celia Lewis said...

Goodness, unseen even in death. I hope you get some satisfaction re the registrations, Lorine.