Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Storydello: Invisible Freddie

After Freddie was admitted to the asylum, he disappeared from almost all the family records. It wasn't that they'd forgotten him. His father's will provided "annually to the Ontario Hospital at Orillia the sum of Seventy Eight dollars for the maintenance of my son Frederick A. Knight." But Freddie's name wasn't even mentioned in the obituaries of his parents or grandmother. As shocking as this seems in our time, in those days it was common for families to hide the fact that a child had been institutionalized.

Ironically, Freddie's great-uncle Joseph Workman had been the superintendent of the Toronto asylum, and was world-famous for his humane treatment of patients, providing good food, minimal medication, lots of alcoholic drinks (!) and staff who practiced "unvarying kindness, never-tiring forbearance, and undeviating truthfulness."

Later, the Orillia Asylum became known for exactly the opposite treatment of patients, and much worse. But that's where Freddie was sent.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.