South Western Regional Centre Psychiatric Hospital
Opened in 1961, the Southwestern Regional Centre was originally named the “Ontario Hospital School for Retarded Children at Cedar Springs”. The facility provided long-term care for residents with mental disability, providing capacity relief from the overwhelming demand at the Huronia Centre. It was the last massive institution built in Ontario for the treatment of the mentally disabled.
This institution was originally designed to accommodate children under 10 years old. As the years passed, focus was altered to accommodate the aging population, as residency in those years was considered somewhat permanent.
In 1966 there was a resident population of 1,200 and a staff of 600. By 1979 the resident population had been reduced to 620 as changes in policy and strategy dictated the reassignment of residents back into the community, a philosophy of Community Living originating in the 1950’s. Even before the facility opened, the winds of institutionalization were changing. In 1959, the architectural plans were altered for Southwestern, reducing the project from 2,400 to 1,000 beds.
After years of downsizing, the 300 acre facility finally closed in 2008 following the government’s decision to move from institutional based services to a fully community based approach.