Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Jean Matthews

Second Advisor

Roger Hall


This examination of the London, Ontario Asylum for the Insane (London Psychiatric Hospital) from its opening in 1870 until the end of the nineteenth century is one of the first analytical studies of a Canadian mental institution, particularly from the inmates' perspective. The thesis attempts to describe the types of people who were committed to late nineteenth century asylums through analysis of the patients admitted to the London Asylum between 1870-1877. The administrations of the first two superintendents, Henry Landor and Richard Maurice Bucke are compared. Because their position required an authoritative outlook, they experienced difficulties in dealing with their employer, the provincial government, and with their own subordinates. Their attempts to apply moral treatment in an institution which, because of serious overcrowding, inevitably became custodial, are discussed. Nineteenth century ideas about insanity are examined, and the extent to which definitions of insanity and prescriptions for treatment reflected the moral norms of the time. Particular attention is given to the treatment of the "disease" of masturbatory insanity.



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