abandoned Rideau Regional Centre

Abandoned Rideau Regional Centre Urban Exploring

Abandoned Rideau Regional Centre Urban Exploring

The now Abandoned Rideau Regional Centre, located in Smiths Falls, Ontario, opened in 1951 as the Ontario Hospital School. Along with similar residential institutions throughout Ontario, it was designed to house individuals who were deemed to have cognitive and physical disabilities.

Individuals could be admitted by parents and guardians, training schools, or the Children’s Aid Society.

At its peak, Rideau’s population exceeded 2,600 people in 1955, even though it was only built to accommodate 1,500. By the mid 1970s, the Ontario government operated 16 such facilities across the province.

In the 1950s and 60s, there were few community services and supports available for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

That began changing in the 1970s when schools and workshops and other community support for people with developmental disabilities were introduced.

Rideau was one of the last three facilities of its kind in Ontario, along with the Southwestern Regional Centre in Chatham-Kent and the Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia, all of which closed in 2009




After the facilities closed, after former residents of a number of Ontario institutions filed class action lawsuits claiming neglect and abuse, and after the premier apologized for their pain

Hepatitis B was widespread at Rideau Regional, especially among patients with down syndrome. A study in the 1970s found that more than 90 per cent of residents with Down syndrome in the sample group had contracted hepatitis B at some point, and one-quarter of them had developed a chronic case. A larger survey at Huronia found similar results.

On March 31, 2009, the lights went out for good at the Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia and the Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls, the oldest and the largest residential institutions in the province.

At the end of 2013 it was announced that tentative settlements totaling $32.7 million had been reached for former residents of two Ontario institutions for the developmentally disabled who alleged they were abused at the facilities.

The two institutions were the Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls, Ont., and the Southwestern Regional Centre near Chatham, Ont.

In 2016 it was announced that an Ontario court had approved a $36-million compensation deal for people mistreated at 12 now-closed institutions for adults with mental disabilities.




Abandoned Rideau Regional Centre Photo Gallery



6 thoughts on “Abandoned Rideau Regional Centre Urban Exploring”

  1. well I was there, this latest news of native schools brings back sad tales, just wondering how many did not make it out of there?, and how many where able to live normal lifes after beig released…;???

  2. This is a reply to Bernie – my parents worked at Rideau Regional. My dad was a plumber there for over 20 years, my mom was a daycare teacher at the private daycare for the centres staff. I grew up in those buildings. I was there everyday, running down maintenance halls to go visit my dad on his lunch breaks. After it was shut down, all the residents were just placed in different homes across town. Wherever there was a spot available, they would put them. Foster homes, mainly. These people lived their entire lives in this centre. They didn’t know anything but it. By the time it had shut down, most of the residents living there, had been in there since they were children. And the government just walked up, and dumped them out on the streets. The town of Smiths Falls hasn’t been the same since. Once Rideau Regional went, so did Hersheys Factory and Stanley Tools. They were the biggest employers in town. Everyone took a hit. The building was left abandoned for years, with contractors buying it for a project, giving up, and moving on. It was bought several years back and are now fancy condos. So, wouldn’t be surprised if these condo owners have some pretty spooky experiences. After everything I’ve learned about that place over the years, I wouldn’t live there for free.

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  4. In order to graduate from Algonquin college with a DSW/developmental services worker diploma,
    Students had to intern at Rideau Regional in order to obtain their diploma. My parents begged me to quit school because of the emotional impact it had on me being exposed to what I believed to have been abusive practices. Algonquin was obviously aware of the practices that had been in place for years prior and never challenged or questioned the ethics but rather forced their students to work in these horrible conditions in order to graduate. I believe that many, myself included, experienced trauma from this experience. Fortunately I was able to persevere and graduate in the spring of 1990.

  5. MY brother was there from 1960 to 1962 where he died two weeks before our 14 birthday the things i saw there as a child are still embedded in my head today horrible place my sister was to young to remember she was sheltered from what had happened to him my life has never been the same as my brother was my twin. when it is my time to go i hope he will recognize me Love u Jamie

  6. My ex-wife worked there back in the early 80s. She gave me a tour – it was horrible. I can’t speak to the abuse, but what I can speak to is the utter dependence many of the severely mentally challenged have on our health care system; their dependence on inadequately funded group homes is a disgusting legacy for the Davis government.

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