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)
Medical Superintendents | Photos & Coordinates | 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).
Photos & Coordinates
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 (circa 1905) by G. A. Barrowclough
Source: Rob McInnes, PP0031
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 (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 (no date)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Portage la Prairie-Building-Provincial-Manitoba School for Mental Defectives 14, N34137
Aerial view of buildings at Manitoba School for Mental Defectives (no date)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Portage la Prairie-Building-Provincial-Manitoba School for Mental Defectives 3, N34133
Aerial view of buildings at Manitoba Development Centre (October 2020)
Source: George Penner
Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.98586, W98.28390
denoted by symbol on the map above
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Development Centre Cemetery (RM of Portage la Prairie)
Memorable Manitobans: Gilbert C. Parfitt (1886-1966)
Memorable Manitobans: Robert Nicholas Wyatt (1877-1954)
“A Very Serious Matter”: The Manitoba Government’s Institution for People with Intellectual Disability by Mary Horodyski
Prairie History, Number 1, Winter 2020
“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, Nathan Kramer, and George Penner for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 25 June 2023
Historic Sites of Manitoba
This is a collection of historic sites in Manitoba compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. The information is offered for historical interest only.
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