Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ladies and Children

In 1930, Essondale experienced tremendous growth. New buildings built, the community on the grounds - patients and staff who lived at Essondale - grew. New treatments for helping the mentally ill were tried. Even with the challenges of the Great Depression and the nursing shortage caused by World War II, Essondale continued to give a high level of care.

The female patient population at Essondale was increasing. It was in October of 1930 when the Chronic Female Building, later known as East Lawn, opened and the first female patients arrived on the grounds. 500 women were transferred from the Provincial Hospital for the Insane in New Westminster. This was the start of significant growth at Essondale.

A month later, the first Nurse's Home opened in order to provide accommodations for the female staff. Training of nurses also began at East Lawn that year. Because nurses were in such urgent demand, training was fast and the first student nurses graduated in the spring of 1932. These women would then help train the next batch of nurses who were on a two-year schedule. After that, it was three years of training until 1951 when it became a two-year program.

The Boys Industrial School was moved to the former trades building when the cottages were upgraded following the 1935 Provincial Home for the Aged Act. (I am guessing that the aged were moved into the upgraded cottages.)

Also affecting the Boys' School in 1935 was a major policy change where the school was acting more like an instructional institution instead of a correctional one. The outside work was also reduced to be more of an instructional device, leaving more time for classes and vocational training.

Essondale was constantly shifting patients and resources to meet the needs of the community and would continue to do so throughout its history.

There were children on the grounds of Essondale as well. Many staff lived on the grounds of this remote community and it was like a small town.

"As children growing up on Essondale, we were a close knit bunch and almost impervious to the outside world, and us and our families almost invariably lived our own lives within the realms of Essondale."

"The first store of any description was certainly a welcome addition. It was operated by the CNIB and opened around 1935, the first proprietor being Archie Shearer and his wife. It was a real treat to be able to walk down and buy a pop on a hot summer day or just walk there for something to do - what excitement! No TV, no picture shows but I can't ever remember being bored growing up and living at Essondale."

From Up on The Hill by Tom Symington

"There was one classroom for Grades 1 to 12 at Essondale School. We'd go the cannery at Colony Farm for field trips or our teacher would take us over to the Essondale grounds and get us to name trees."

Art Talbot
Grew up at Essondale during the 1940s and 1950s.

Thanks to the PDF, Riverview, A Legacy of Care and Compassion for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

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