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HIDDEN VANCOUVER: Riverview Mental Hospital

October 7, 2011 | by  |  Photo Journals

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.

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

At its peak in 1951, the hospital held roughly 4600 patients, among them the mentally ill, ┬áthe 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.

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

Photo by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

All photos by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / shoesonwires.com

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10 Comments


  1. So depressing. Can’t imagine anyone recovering here.

  2. Thats it? I wanted to know.Off to wiki to learn about The Martingale…

  3. * I wanted to know more

  4. Hey Justus,
    I was wondering if one would need a permit if they wanted to film/photo on these grounds?

  5. It’s amazing how even in your own hometown buildings can get like this. One of my favourite ghost towns of all time is Ocean Falls. Feels the same man.

  6. Is it true that it is haunted?

  7. Anyone else come here because of grave encounters?

  8. Yes, it is haunted. I have several film crew friends that gave had very creepy experiences and refuse to work there again.

  9. yes it is haunted i have been inside it in the 80s visiting people and me and my friends now go ghost hunting around the grounds now that it is closed and yes it i in fact haunted.their is also a old cementary with hundrends of children in it.

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