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Riverview Hospital’s West Lawn building, also known as the “Male Chronic” Unit, opened in 1913 as the first permanent structure on the facility’s grounds. Fenced in, patrolled 24 hours a day by security, and known as one of the most heavily-used locations for film and TV crews in the Lower Mainland, it was home to thousands of mentally ill patients until its closure in 1983. Since then, the building has sat abandoned and decaying, as the Riverview Facility has slowly been phased out around it.
At its peak in 1951, the hospital held roughly 4600 patients, among them the mentally ill, the handicapped, veterans, disturbed children, and homosexuals, and the care given to them was largely custodial rather than rehabilitative. In fact, during the 1940s, only 540 patients out of the total population were receiving any sort of treatment. In many cases, patients were locked in their cells, or even placed in physical restraints. A device known as “The Martingale”, originally in use at the turn of the century, was also particularly notorious.
All photos by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com