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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Home for Incurables / Home for the Aged and Infirm / Manitoba School for Mental Defectives / Manitoba School for Retardates / Manitoba Development Centre (3rd Street NE, Portage la Prairie)

Link to:
Medical Superintendents | Photos & Maps | Sources

Designed and built between 1889 and 1890 on a design by Winnipeg architect Charles H. Wheeler, the facility in Portage la Prairie housed patients with with a wide variety of ailments that at the time would not be treated in a general hospital. A report in 1918 by two Ontario physicians reported:

“The name, Home for Incurables, is misleading, and the institution has become a reception house for every kind of ailment—as one of our party expressed it—“from eczema to dementia.” Apparently any family in Manitoba which had a troublesome member, either old or young, simply passed it on to the Home for Incurables, until this institution possessed an unhappy conglomeration of idiots, imbeciles, epileptics, insane, seniles and mentally normal people suffering from incurable diseases.”

Names under which the facility operated through its history have included Home for Incurables (1890-1924), Home for the Aged and Infirm (1924-1930), Manitoba School for Mental Defectives (1930-1967), Manitoba School for Retardates (1967-1984), and Manitoba Development Centre (1984-present).

Medical Superintendents

Period

Superintendent

1890-?

Thomas Mcketchie Milroy (1859-1947)

?-?

John Pringle Young (1845-1918)

1901-1906

William Patterson Smith (1850-1937)

1906-1930

?

1930-1965

Henry Sheridan Atkinson (1901-1965)

1965-?

Glen Harrison Lowther (1926-2019)

?-1984

?

1984-1987

Fischel J. Coodin (c1926-1992)

Photos & Coordinates

Postcard view of Home for Incurables with original building at right and addition at left

Postcard view of Home for Incurables with original building at right and addition at left (no date)
Source: Rob McInnes, PP0020

Postcard view of Home for Incurables

Postcard view of Home for Incurables (circa 1905) by G. A. Barrowclough
Source: Rob McInnes, PP0031

Map of building at Home for Incurables

Map of building at Home for Incurables (1920)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Fire Insurance Map

One of the original buildings at left and 1937-1938 addition, designed by architect Gilbert C. Parfitt, at right at Manitoba School for Mental Defectives

One of the original buildings at left and 1937-1938 addition, designed by architect Gilbert C. Parfitt, at right at Manitoba School for Mental Defectives (no date)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Portage la Prairie-Building-Provincial-Manitoba School for Mental Defectives 4, N14776

Atkinson Building at Manitoba School for Mental Defectives

Atkinson Building at Manitoba School for Mental Defectives (no date)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Portage la Prairie-Building-Provincial-Manitoba School for Mental Defectives 14, N34137

Map of building at Home for Incurables

Aerial view of building at Manitoba School for Mental Defectives (no date)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Portage la Prairie-Building-Provincial-Manitoba School for Mental Defectives 3, N34133

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.98586, W98.28390
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Development Centre Cemetery (RM of Portage la Prairie)

Memorable Manitobans: Gilbert C. Parfitt (1886-1966)

“A Very Serious Matter”: The Manitoba Government’s Institution for People with Intellectual Disability by Mary Horodyski
Prairie History, Number 1, Winter 2020

Sources:

“Report of the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene,” by Drs. C. K. Clarke and C. M. Hincks, Public Welfare Commission of Manitoba, Second Interim Report, February 1919, page 106. [Manitoba Legislative Library, SpR 1917]

We thank James Kostuchuk, Rob McInnes, Mary Horodyski, and Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 22 February 2020

Historic Sites of Manitoba

This is a collection of historic sites in Manitoba compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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