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Ontario's Forgotten Landmarks: Muskoka Sanitorium

Posted by Jonathan Castellino / April 14, 2009

Muskoka SanitoriumDemolition-by-neglect will soon befall the Muskoka Tuberculosis sanitorium, which since the demise of Whitby Psych, is one of the few derelict medical abandonments near Toronto. This was the main reason for my visit. However, it didn't take much convincing to get me up to this eerily beautiful building.

Muskoka Sanitorium
The level of decay seemed to increase significantly as we made our careful ascent. Unintentional patterns, textures and colours emerged as nature took its toll on the old structure...
Muskoka Sanitorium

Muskoka Sanitorium
The ground had completely frozen over fallen paint-chips in the classroom section of the uppermost level, creating an optical illusion on the floors...
Muskoka Sanitorium

Muskoka Sanitorium
Sanitoriums are known for their numerous windows, and the building's interior was originally painted to meet the light. Even the most gentle of colours, however, took on an almost sinister tone in their current state.
Muskoka Sanitorium

Muskoka Sanitorium

Muskoka Sanitorium
The patients' rooms, although for the most part stripped of their amenities, still managed to maintained unique characteristics...
Muskoka Sanitorium

Muskoka Sanitorium
The entire visit was a mix of emotions for me; the cold, dripping, vacant corridors were filled with the stench of decay, coupled with memories of a healing which the building itself will never receive.
Muskoka Sanitorium

To see the rest of the photo series from this haunting place, as well as high-resolution images of those shown above, please take a look at my flickr slideshow below.

Discussion

79 Comments

Troy / April 14, 2009 at 01:45 pm
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what a neat place.. what's up with the cheesy 90's photoshop effects on every photo?
Jonathan / April 14, 2009 at 01:49 pm
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Heya,
it certainly is a neat place; rumor has it they have already begun demo : (
as for the photoshopping, a few of those shots are actually processed film, and with the rest, I used Lightroom; I thought this combination would give it a unique look, and certainly was not going for 'cheesy' : P

jonathan@blogTO
Matt / April 14, 2009 at 01:50 pm
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Awesome.
Corina / April 14, 2009 at 02:05 pm
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So awesome... where is this place?
Jonathan / April 14, 2009 at 02:18 pm
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Corina - it's in the North end of Muskoka, Ontario (I believe it's the North end...).

jonathan@blogTO
Keidi / April 14, 2009 at 03:47 pm
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How can I join you on these discoveries?
Chester Pape / April 14, 2009 at 03:48 pm
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Isn't this whole aesthetic of abandonment thing done yet?
Paul / April 14, 2009 at 03:55 pm
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This is my favourite regular feature on BlogTO, but I have to agree that the saturation and contrast kill detail as much as they enhance.

I guess it's up to the photog to decide. Lightroom is amazing and so are presets, but too much of a good thing can get tedious, especially when it detracts from subjects that so easily speak for themselves.

Fading borders, sepia, vignetting, cross-processing, and rounded edges are like fake tanner, boob jobs, rouge and bleach on someone who's already beautiful.
Anna / April 14, 2009 at 04:07 pm
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My grandparents met here - both patients...
Jonathan / April 14, 2009 at 04:19 pm
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Chester pape: never : )

Paul: to be honest, these were all edited a while ago for my own website; the rounded-boarders is used to distinguish film from digital in most cases, but with the already-defined boarders on blogTO, perhaps I will not do this in the future. I love fooling with processing skills, so that not all abandonment snaps look the same - thanks for your input, and I'm glad you like the series.

Anna: that is awesome! I love hearing things like that...

jonathan@blogTO
Max / April 14, 2009 at 04:56 pm
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Hi Jonathan,
As someone who enjoys UE with my partner - to photograph and explore, not to destroy - I appreciate the effects that you have used to show your experience with the building and the emotions you felt.
Everyone is entitled to their own view of a opinion.
My opinion is that these photographs seem to be crafted with love and are pleasant to look upon.
Good exploration, keep it up.
Corina replying to a comment from Jonathan / April 14, 2009 at 05:55 pm
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Is it like, a secret Jonathan? :) My dad used to work in mental services up in Muskoka and I'm just wondering if he'd have seen this place in action... also awesome that it's way up North, I have a cottage in those parts and it can be pretty 'atmospheric' up there, perfect setting for taking these pics I'm sure.

If only you could have photographed the old Bigwin Inn before they renovated!
The Dishwasher / April 14, 2009 at 11:50 pm
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Stunning photos.
Michelle / April 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm
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Thanks for this, Jonathon. I always look for the "Forgotten Landmarks" articles. And I think your photos are great, I love the colours in some of them. I didn't know this place existed and I'm interested in it's history. It's weird that there's no Wikipedia entry on the place.

PS I have an idea for one of your visits, I'll e-mail you.
OPo / April 17, 2009 at 02:51 pm
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this is lame yiou shoukd have liek mountians seriouly man i am going to die i likw to read adn is o
David Ing / April 26, 2009 at 04:58 pm
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Thanks for these photos of the Muskoka Sanitorium, because I'll never see the place in person.

I was raised in Gravenhurst -- my teenage years in the 1970s -- and the Sanitorium was open, then. It wasn't a place that a teenager would visit -- I never had a reason to go -- because it was a way out of town. I think that I had a relative stay there for health reasons, and my father went out to visit.
Lee Ann McIndoo / May 10, 2009 at 07:26 pm
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Hello Johnathan: Looking at these pictures brought up all kinds of emotions. Facination, sadness, nostalgia and anger, to name a few. It felt like I was looking at pictures of the Titanic after it went down. I have been in every nook and cranny of this place. I worked there in the 70's, 80's and 90's, when it was called Muskoka Centre. It was an institution for the developmentally challenged. The pictures are beautiful to look at but it's easy to remember that people lived, worked and also died in this building. It was one of the worst jobs I've ever had and also, probably, the best. To know that I have walked in every room that your pictures depict gives me a sense of surrealism. My favorite is the one looking down the stairwell, from the fifth floor. I used to do that all the time!!! I have sent the pictures to myself so that I, at least, have some record of where I spent some of the most formative years of my life and to hold onto some of the many memories. This was my first job out of high school, and I'm still in the field. It's been 30 years now!! Thanks for posting them!!
Lee Ann McIndoo / May 10, 2009 at 07:29 pm
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P.S. In case anyone would like to know, the Muskoka Centre is in Gravenhurst, Ontario.
Juliet / May 10, 2009 at 10:03 pm
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These photos really angered me! My grandparents worked at this sanitorium , my mother was a patient there,and years later I worked as a residential councellor when it was called Muskoka Center. I am angry at the fact that after spending millions of dollars on renovations the gov't allowed this place ( for the second time in its history) to rot and get into this condition. It was a beautiful place on a penninsula of land on Lake Muskoka. After it ceased as a TB sanitorium it was allowed to sit and rot and some of the buildings had to be torn down. Now it has been left again. It is hard to imagine from these photos just how beautiful this place was. It is so sad.
Kevin replying to a comment from Lee Ann McIndoo / June 21, 2009 at 08:35 pm
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Thank you Lee Ann you are such a kind lady!!!
Don Brundage replying to a comment from Lee Ann McIndoo / July 3, 2009 at 02:49 pm
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Thanks Lee Ann for identifying the location. Been looking for info on the Gravenhurst TB sanatorium. My wife is searching for her grandfather's grave site and this is where he died suffering from TB. Is there a graveyard at the sanatorium for those that died there or would they have been buried in a Gravenhurst cemetery?
Lee Ann McIndoo / July 3, 2009 at 06:40 pm
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Hello Don: Thank you for your comment. I don't remember there ever being a cemetery on the grounds. If there was, it was long forgotten because there was never any mention of one. There are three possibilities: 1) Your wife's family claimed her grandfather's remains and buried him themselves or, 2) He was not claimed and buried in Gravenhurst OR, 3) the family had him buried in Gravenhurst. I'm pretty sure that German POW's were buried in Gravenhurst so, possibly provisions were made for Sanitorium patients. The town should have archives and burial records for that far back. I hope that these ideas have been helpful. Keep me posted!!! Lee Ann
Doug Simpkins / August 28, 2009 at 03:00 pm
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For the gentleman looking for burial of his relatives from the sanitarium, possibly Mickel Memorial Cemetary on what used to be called the San rd. This is the road that leads to the sanitarium
This is also the cemetary where the German POW's were buried, but I believe were relocated back to Germany some years ago along with the hand carved wooden grave markers.
I used to live on that road close to the Ontario Fire College which was the original tb sanitarium, so I am told.
Lorraine / November 9, 2009 at 06:04 pm
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I am also looking for a relative that died in the sanitarium, but we have not grave marker to go by,,, i have searched the whole of muskoka district for a grave marker and there is not one for him,,, are there any records that may have been kept by some office to find out where his remains are..
Thank you.
Lorraine / November 9, 2009 at 06:16 pm
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I am looking for a relative that died at the sanitarium there in 1939, I have looked through all the gravemarkers all over muskoka district, with no luck, I am assuming that the family could not afford to pay for a headstone at that time. Is there anyone or anywhere I can go to see where his remains are.The family would be most grateful.
shannon-lee / November 19, 2009 at 05:50 pm
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hey i have lived in gravenhurst for about a year now.. i just found out last week that this place was even here! i was just wondering who tlaked to about going in there to take pictures..? i am very intrusted in stuff like this i think the place is amazing and your pictures are beatfuil! thank you
Norma / March 6, 2010 at 05:37 pm
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Its so interesting to see the pictures. My grandmother who was born in Scotland had received a scholarship to learn nursing by working at this sanitorium. Back then, they didn't learn nursing through schools. It was more like on the job training. Unfortunately, she passed away before I was born so I never got to hear the stories of what it was like there.
Wendy / March 20, 2010 at 01:48 pm
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I just finished reading a book by a woman whose aunt died here in the 1920's. The book is called "A Life Consumed" and the author is Diane Sims. Her aunt, Lilly Samson died after about 4 years in the san. The book is about her life as a patient there, told from her letters. It made me want to see the building. I'm sorry it is falling down.
nancy / May 13, 2010 at 07:53 pm
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Hello all:
I'm SO GLAD I found this site.....my story is that my Dad met my Mom in the sanitorium.. married upon discharge.
I know my Dad had the last radical lung surgery done there. I believe they removed a large amt. of one of his lungs...
I think in total.. between them......they were there for about 15 yrs. My Dad (not sure if he started it or not).. but wrote/edited the Gravenhurst Sun... the in-house paper for quite a few years. He would edit others contributions/gave all the "new admissions/releases and deaths in each issue. I unfortunately left home quite young... so we didn't talk a lot about it... but prior to my Mom's passing.. she sent me a bound book with a lot of the papers he produced. They were both very musical.. my Mom trained/my Dad.. could sit at a piano and play something note for note after the very first time he heard it. It was definitely a bond of theirs that lasted until their respective deaths. When we were young.. (a bjillion yrs.ago)we spent a # of summers at the home of Dr. Ross who was one of the dr's. there for a very long time. This goes back a very long time ago.....but.. thought it might be interesting. I saw the building many times before.. well.. certainly the way it looks now....
Thank you so much for allowing me to express and most importantly REMEMBERING.................
All take good care..........
Brenda / May 14, 2010 at 06:36 pm
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Thank you for the informative but sad pictures. My grandfather died in the sanitorium in or around 1912. His name was James Strachan. I have been trying to find any information on him. Does anyone know where the medical records might be found?
shannon-lee / May 14, 2010 at 11:38 pm
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i wish i new i am not sure i know that now they just use parts of it for opp training i was there a couple months ago and was taking pictures outside i was unable to go in the police said that it was unsafe.
nancy / May 19, 2010 at 09:10 am
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Hi all:
Just me again... quick note.. I am in the process of packing up to move and I know I have the bound version of some of the in-house "news" as I mentioned above. Haven't located it just yet, but when I do.. I would be honoured .. for all of you looking for info. on relatives who passed away etc..if I can find any of their names/dates.. etc..
If that's helpful to anyone.. I will do my very best.
All take good care
christopher / May 26, 2010 at 05:48 pm
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has the building been demolished or is it still standing? is it abandon still or are there construction crews? great pictures
Doug Simpkins / May 26, 2010 at 11:10 pm
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I don't think these building were the original TB sanitarium.

I believe the original TB Sanitarium is the property that the Ontario Fire College now occupies.
My parents owned the house across the road which was built in the 1890's. This was the original nurses residence known as the old Beattie home.
I am guessing the age because when I was a kid my dad did some renovations to the house and found some old newspapers stuffed in the walls for insulation dating 1890s
Doug Simpkins / May 26, 2010 at 11:13 pm
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I believe the original TB sanitarium was the property that the Ontario Fire College is now occupying,
My parents owned the home across the road from the College and I was told it was the original nurses residence.
While renovating it in the 60's we found old newspapers behind the plaster dating 1890's.

So I have been told

Doug
Elaine Matthews replying to a comment from shannon-lee / June 11, 2010 at 01:01 am
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Hi Shannon-Lee:
Last year I contacted the new owners of the property, requesting permission to go through and take some photos . they refused, saying that when it was left, the water had not been shut off, and many pipes burst, so they will not allow anyone inside. It is such a shame . that building has such a vivid history, and should be preserved. It is so sad to see it left to rot like it is. If you do manage to get any permissions to get inside, please DO let me know -- I'd love to tour through with you!
Elaine :)
Trudy / August 1, 2010 at 06:27 pm
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My Mother was a resident of the hospital from 1944-1949, she kept a small autograph book that she had people sign, I still have it as well as a picture of her with some friends. Some names include, Bailey, Sosak, Latte, Cronkey, Man, Neyland, Migwans, Johnson, Cleary, Zettler, Hurst, Wright, King, The Beanery Gang, Bacheller, Brooks, Hayward, Dawson, LeBarron, Fredon, Lauttit, Blakely,Sanderson,Pinkerton, Clarke,James,Smith, Lewis, Stanyk, Quinn, Knolt? or Snolt, Gervais, Gingras, Lavigne. I have looked everywhere for records pertaining to the San, but have had no luck so far as I had a Grandmother there later who passed away. Does anyone know of a patient named Alexandre?
PS if I have posted a relative and you would like more info, please contact me at address given.
Brenda / August 2, 2010 at 04:36 pm
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I had posted a comment earlier this year, looking for information on my grandfather James Strachan who passed away at the sanitarium in 1937. With help from this site, I'm passing along some info. Patient records are available from the sanitarium and can be obtained through the Ontario Archives. They were great in helping me unravel what had to be done to obtain the records. I am presently awaiting the final step. Some records are held by a private collector while others appear to be in a restricted area of the government. The Ontario Archives can walk you through the process, as they did me. Good luck in your search.
Tom McNeice / September 7, 2010 at 10:37 pm
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Most of the sanitarium records were stored at the Westpark hospital in Toronto. Most of the patients who passed away there would have been buried in Lakeview cemetery in Gravenhurst, and as many of these people were destitute and had no funds, they were buried without gravemarkers. We do have records of interments for many of these patients and burial locations, so please contact me at the cemetery office in Gravenhurst and I will try to assist you. 705-687-3412 . On another matter, the German P.O.W's that passed away in Gravenhurst (2) were re-interred in Woodlawn cemetery in Kitchener, On. along with other P.O.W's that passed away in Canada during W.W.2
Lynne Briden / December 29, 2010 at 07:12 pm
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What a shame to let this beautiful land just sit and rot All our time and work and now H.R.C. IN ORILLIAwill look the same in 10 years if they don't do something but i think the cops and Georgian collega are interseted in some land and buildings .i was there for 15 years and 13 years at Muskoka .28 in all .Just a shame . Goverament for you .
Roxanne Barnes / December 30, 2010 at 07:13 pm
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This is a complete shame how the government has let these buildings deteriorate. I started working at Muskoka Centre as a summer student back in the mid seventies. After graduating from the MRC course I worked there until it closed. My mother worked there back in around 1960. It was a great place to work. I would love to take a tour of the buildings. There is so much history in those walls. Many stories to be told.
Eileen Taylor replying to a comment from Roxanne Barnes / May 16, 2011 at 08:16 pm
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Hi Roxanne,

Please tell me anything you can about Muskoka Centre. I had a sibling there from the mid 60's until close.

Thank you,

Eileen
Andrea Baston replying to a comment from Anna / July 31, 2011 at 06:14 pm
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Hello, I am doing some historical research on the old Sanitorium as I am from Gravenhurst and my Mum grew up on the site as a child of one of the employees. I would like to connect with people whose family members may have been patients or might have worked at the San. My email address is andrea.baston@sympatico.ca
Andrea Baston replying to a comment from nancy / July 31, 2011 at 06:23 pm
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Hello Nancy,

I am doing some historical research on the San. My Mum grew up there as a child of one of the employees. I would like to contact people who have memories of what it was like. Would it be possible to contact you? Thank you, Andrea Baston
kathy hillier (wright) replying to a comment from Trudy / August 15, 2011 at 08:50 pm
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Hi Trudy: My father Colin Wright was a patient there in the 40's. I'm wondering if he is in the picture you said you had of your grandmother as you mentioned a "wright" had signed an autograph book.
Jim Dolmage / December 30, 2011 at 03:26 pm
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The present Ontario government seems intent to eradicate the history of similar institutions. It will be interesting to see what happens to Muskoka Centre. Edgar - an offshoot of Huronia Regional Centre (as was Muskoka Centre) has recently been sold for $2500 - an unbelievable pittance compared to the value of the property. Several years ago when a group wanted to develop the site for low income housing the government had a price tag of over $3 million. Now they have sold it to a developer who will wipe out all traces of the history. Rideau Regional Centre - almost 400 acres and over 800,000 square feet of buildings was sold for $100,000 recently. Again to a developer so there will be no public access, no memorial for the people who lived and died there. I believe strongly that Muskoka Centre should have a public park and memorials dedicated to the residents who lived there.
Jim Dolmage / December 30, 2011 at 03:47 pm
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For those of you like Andrea interested in the San history there is a great downloadable pdf file at

http://www.cbmh.ca/index.php/cbmh/article/view/1238/1229

that has very good pictures and is a focus on the architectural side of the San. It is interesting to me how we adopted the British notion of calling these institutional buildings 'cottages.' It may have been appropriate in Muskoka but location didn't matter as large brick buildings at HRC were also designated as 'cottages' but there was nothing cottagy about them. They held large open dormitory rooms and shower areas designed for mass showers and rows of exposed toilets.
Andrea Baston / January 2, 2012 at 08:33 pm
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The article is excellent, thanks Jim.
JustMe replying to a comment from Jonathan / January 19, 2012 at 02:59 pm
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Its nowhere near the north end of Muskoka. Its actually in Gravenhurst, the southern most point of the region. Its used (or at least it was used) as a training facility for the OPP special forces and Ontario Fire College.
Karen Webster replying to a comment from nancy / March 3, 2012 at 02:09 pm
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Hi Nancy Looking over some old blog comments where you mentioned a bound book of admissions etc to Gravenhurst sanitorium. I am looking for info on a relative, Oneida Irwin, a teacher who died in 1923. Apparently committed suicide. We are wondering why she was in Gravenhurst and tuberculosis is a possibility. Is her name among the ones in your book?

Thank you
Karen
Darrell replying to a comment from Roxanne Barnes / March 16, 2012 at 02:52 pm
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I too worked at the centre in the 80's as a summer student! It was one of the best jobs I have ever had! I enjoyed taking the guys out to the baseball games at Gull lake and just the overall fun we would have! BBQ on the beach, Taking the boat out on the lake!
It is very sad to see these pictures! Why has nothing ever been done with ths property? which must be worth millions of dollars to the province!
Raylene replying to a comment from nancy / March 26, 2012 at 07:18 pm
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Hello Nancy,
Have you ever thought of posting your papers online for others to be able to read and get information from. My grandmother passed away in one of the sanitoriums in the year 1945. I do know that her family was contacted and they refused to take her remains. For those of her family that are/were interested in her, we are at a lose as to what happened to her remains. It would be so interesting to find out if she had any friends and had someone who cared about her.
Bonnie / April 8, 2012 at 10:50 pm
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My father was at the MCH in 1936 and we are just looking at some staff shots of Dr. Hazelwood and some outside shots of the building. My father, Arthur K.Gordon and my mother met at the Hamilton San.
Jo-Ann / July 22, 2012 at 04:57 am
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This does bring back some memories thatI have wanted to learn more about. My mother had never spoken about her mother and father who had died at young age from TB. Her mother, Annie Coral McInnis Miller from Grey County, had died on July 23, 1929 at this Institution. As my mother was nearing the end of her life, I was sorting through some papers and found for the first time, a box of letters, tied with blue ribbon,that were written back and forth while her mother had been at this hospital and others. Those letters brought forth tears and mentioning this to my mother with a deep emotional turmoil inside, we touched on this subject that she had never spoken about before this time. Even if the building is gone, the stories should live on for others to know about and remember.

Thank you
Csar Autorepair / July 22, 2012 at 07:10 am
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Heya,
it is some sort of well put together spot; rumor features the item these have begun test: (
when it comes to photoshopping, many of these images have been processed motion picture, and with the remaining, When i applied Lightroom; When i thought this mixture would offer the item a distinctive glimpse, and surely hasn't been choosing 'cheesy': G.
ISkyscraper / August 21, 2012 at 07:46 pm
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Just read a lovely piece of fiction by Alice Munro in the current issue of the New Yorker. I believe it was loosely based on the San.
iSkyscraper / August 23, 2012 at 09:29 am
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Alice Munro's story can be read here:
http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2012/08/27/120827fi_fiction_munro?currentPage=all
Pam Ellis / November 23, 2012 at 08:17 pm
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I have lived in Gravenhurst for ten years and have always been fascinated with the site. Unfortunately you cannot get in there and I am so grateful to see the pics. I have wanted to write a book about the sanitorium but couldn't find many resources. I may have found a beginning here. The main building still stands and irregardless of the decay she remains regal sitting on the point! And the little gazebo is still there I had to take the boat around to try and get pics of the site from outside. Will continue to follow this site! My heart goes out to all those who had family there the stories you must have.
Kristi / January 5, 2013 at 09:41 pm
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Thank you for sharing these photos, I just found out my Great Grand Mother died here in 1936 after a 28 day stay.. What a creepy place...
Mr Warren A ( Facey.) / March 31, 2013 at 07:28 pm
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(YES OK/I SAW SOME(PICTURES)ON/ADULT/OCCUPATIONAL/CENTRE/AT/IS

THIS NAME OF/EDGAR CENTRE/ IN/BARRIE/ONTARIO/L3V-7X1/I GIVE

THE/EMAIL/TO/THERE SOON AS I GET IT AT ONCE BUT IF YOU THERE

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THIS TIME OK HERE IS SOME OF IT OK/[SOME THE/STAFF/OUT/THERE/

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LITTIE NOT ONLY THAT THERE WAS A MAN TAKE/FOOD/UP/TO/COTTAGE/

WENT STAFF DON*T/PAY/FOR /FOOD)BUT SOME HOW I DO/CATCH/HIM ON

NEXT THING HE/WILL/TAKE/YOUR/MONEY/WENT/YOU/ARE/NOT/LOOK/AT/

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AS IN THIS I WILL NOT WORK/NO/MORE/AT/ALL/AND/HE/DID/NOT/LIKE

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/THANKYOU/ WARREN /Facey./.
Mr Warren A ( Facey.) / March 31, 2013 at 07:32 pm
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i want send this to you went no what i am talking of as it did

backfire on him /thankyou/.warren /a / facey/ .
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Eileen Richard / September 1, 2013 at 08:53 pm
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I came over from England in 1957 to work at the Gravenhurst
Sanitorium. At that time there was a lot of Native Indians
there mostly from James Bay suffering from T.B.
One of my jobs was to take the women for a walk in the afternoon around the grounds, a task all the nurses hated as
usually you would lose one or two of them, they would disappear into the woods and meet up with the men who were not
supervised. We were taken to task when we got back to the San
missing one or two patients.
I enjoyed my time there it was a lovely spot E Richard
andie / November 5, 2013 at 02:28 pm
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For those interested in the history of the Muskoka tuberculosis sanatoria,which were the first in all of Canada, a new book has just been published called "Curing Tuberculosis in Muskoka: Canada's First Sanatoria" by Andrea Baston. There are more details at www.oldstonebooks.com
Oskar W. F. Sanio / November 15, 2013 at 09:18 am
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This was a POW camp during WW2. My father was a POW here during the war until they were shifted to the POW camp in Lethbridge.
He stated that they were well treated in the camp and because he wasn't an officer he was allowed to work cutting wood and after he had cut the daily allotment he had free time during which time he built a sailboat which he sailed on the lake. I guess that irritated some of the town inhabitants. He loved Canada enough to return (and he had no where to return to in Prussia)and he tried for many years to find a piece of vacation property up there without luck. It was always too expensive.
Andie / December 11, 2013 at 10:00 pm
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The POW camp during WW2 was actually at a different tuberculosis hospital on Lake Muskoka, one located closer to Gravenhurst harbour than the one shown in the pictures above. The POW camp had formerly been known as the "Calydor Sanatorium" when patients with tuberculosis were treated there,and had closed down in 1935. The Canadian government leased the lands in 1940 for use as the POW camp.
Your father's story is a very interesting one! In fact, some former POWs stayed in Gravenhurst after the war, putting down roots or returning for summer visits. Must be the magic of Muskoka!
Peter McLellan / February 15, 2014 at 07:45 pm
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I was a patient in this san from 1947 to 1949. These pictures bring so many memories back of all kinds. The place was a mixture of beauty, tragedy and warm stories mixed in with the basic sense of mortality for all.
If you became a patient there you left a very different person in many ways.
The pictures of the inside don't strike many memories because of the huge inner changes but the outside shots bring floods of memories. The Gazebo is permanently fixed in my memory.
Some of the names of the doctors who were there when I was were: Dr. Ross who was the head, Dr. Richardson(tall and rather gaunt), Dr.Hazen( a warm and friendly person. Can't recall others but it is rather long ago.
There was also black humour among us patients. There was the "Loyal Order of the Bug" whose logo was a bacterium sporting a top hat and with a cane. He was "Huber the Tuber". There was also the misquote "TB or not TB, That's Congestion"
I would love to hear from anyone who was there at the time I was.
Andrea Baston / February 16, 2014 at 10:48 am
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Mr. McLellan, you might also remember some others: Dr. Hazlewood, who passed away while doing rounds on Christmas Day in 1947; Dr. Lindenfield,the surgeon; J.T. Murray, Purchasing Agent; Bob Moffatt, Education Director.

Old Stone Books Ltd. has recently published my book about the Muskoka Sanatoria, called "Curing Tuberculosis in Muskoka". Some of the historical photos from the book, including one of the Gage Building as it originally was and one of the gazebo as it appears today, can be seen on the home page of Old Stone Books' website: www.oldstonebooks.com, should you be interested in taking a peek.

Andrea Baston


Peter McLellan replying to a comment from Andrea Baston / February 21, 2014 at 09:53 am
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Thank you so much for your reply.You have jogged my memory with those names. I do remember both of the doctors. Dr. Lindenfield was rather dashing younger man as I recall. I don't remember Dr. Hazlewood very well partly because he died about 6 months after I arrived at the place.
I will definitely look up your reference thank you.

Peter McLellan
derek / March 12, 2014 at 03:21 pm
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How do you get here specifically?
julie / March 24, 2014 at 01:42 pm
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I would love to go in and explore this place! The history is so rich! Has anyone been near or in it lately? I know its now owned by the police but can we still walk around it?
Andrea Baston / March 26, 2014 at 05:58 pm
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Julie, no public access is allowed to the property at all. The site is used by the OPP to train police dogs.
Mike Lalonde Sudbury / May 8, 2014 at 02:52 am
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Nice photos, this place may demolished soon. So much history will be lost.
Sharon Wright replying to a comment from Trudy / June 17, 2014 at 11:47 am
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Trudy I hope this gets to you as your post was an old one. My husbands grandfather William John Wright (sometimes John William) was a patient at the sanatorium. If the name in your grandmothers autograph book is grandpa Wright (he usually went by Bill in later years) I would love any information you can give us. Email anytime with info or pics, even a scan of the autograph would be treasured. Thank you for your reply Sharon and Doug Wright
Katie replying to a comment from Trudy / July 21, 2014 at 03:01 pm
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Hi Trudy, Came across this post from you. While I know you made this comment 4 years ago, I hope to still reach you. Any chance there was mention in your little book of an Albert McMillan? He was my grandfather and he died at the Sanitarium in December 1945.
Emmie replying to a comment from nancy / August 28, 2014 at 05:11 pm
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My father was in this facility as well after WW2 and had a large amount of one lung removed. He survived, and I have a few pictures of him and some other patients in these pictures inside and outside sitting on Muskoka style chairs.
Bonnie Jones Oleksiuk / September 29, 2014 at 05:06 pm
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My mom Joyce Jones was a patient at the San in the 1940's. Just a teenager. She never talked about it much. Even though I grew up in Gravenhurst I've never seen the place. Yes, it's a shame that the government let the buildings waste away. Could have fixed the place up years ago. Hindsight......
matt / October 13, 2014 at 06:01 pm
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does anyone have an exact location for this?
Emilie / October 20, 2014 at 12:51 am
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This and all other institutions are horrible, evil places. I work in a group home with individuals who resided at HRC and Rideau for most of their lives and believe me the damage which was done is disgusting. 25 years later they are still scared and frightened, and still talk about and have anxiety over certain people from these places. One individual always got locked in a closet by a certain staff...he still says it. It's so heartbreaking. One other goes into anxiety attacks when he sees a particular looking woman. Most of the individuals in these institutions were abused, neglected, psychologically and sexually assaulted. These so called "staff" didn't know what to do, and from countless victim accounts said that they were raped and mistreated by them....not taken care of, denied regular bathing and I've even read some reports about staff making the 'patients' fight each other. Disgusting.
The institution era of Canada is one of our most shameful.
I love my job and love the people I work for and with. They all bring something different to your life and totally enrich it. I can't imagine the horrors they faced and what they still have to deal with and recall...all for what? Because they have a disability!?!? Totally and utterly horrendous.
Did I mention that when a 'patient' died, they would just bury them on the grounds...with nothing more than a number on a slab. No names, no birth dates, no photos.
Tragic.

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