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British Columbia. Mental Health Services
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Mental Health Branch executive records

  • GR-0133
  • Series
  • 1936-1972

The series consists of central office files of the Directors of Mental Health Services and the Deputy Ministers of the Mental Health Branch created between 1936 and 1972.

This is a set of central office files of the Directors of Mental Health Services (MHS) and the Deputy Ministers of the Mental Health Branch. Before 1959 the Director of Mental Health Services (under a variety of titles), reported to the Deputy Provincial Secretary. Between 1959 and 1968 the positions of Director and Deputy Minister were held by the same person. In 1968 the positions were separated, with Dr. H.W. Bridge as the Director of Mental Health Services, located in Vancouver, and Dr. Tucker as the Deputy Minister, located in Victoria. In September 1971 the position of Director of Mental Health Services was terminated. The statutory obligations of the Director were assumed by the Deputy Minister.

Between 1872 and 1959 MHS was part of the Department of the Provincial Secretary. In 1959 MHS joined the [Public] Health Branch and the Hospital Insurance Service in the new Department of Health Services and Hospital Insurance.

The records include a few files of Dr. Arthur L. Crease, who retired as Director of Mental Hygiene and Psychiatry in 1950 after 16 years at the helm of the Mental Health Services. The bulk of the files were created during the tenures of Dr. A.M. Gee (Director, 1951 58) and Dr. A.E. Davidson (Director and Deputy Minister, 1958 67). Dr. Fred G. "Tommy" Tucker was the Deputy Minister between 1967 and 1975.

Also included are files of the Deputy Director (Dr. Tucker), the Nursing consultant to the Branch (Miss Lonergan), and the Coordinator of Adult Psychiatric Services (Dr. H.W. Bridge).

The time period which these records represent includes many major developments in terms of treatment, insulin shock therapy (1937), electric shock therapy (1942), lobotomy (1945), penicillin and many other drugs. It also includes many new developments in care delivery, new Homes for the Aged in the 1940s and the Crease Clinic of Psychological Medicine in 1949, and the development of community mental health care centres in the 1960s.

British Columbia. Mental Health Services

Mental Health Services minutes of meetings and other material

  • GR-0264
  • Series
  • 1938-1966

The series consists of records created by the Mental Health Services between 1938 and 1966.

Box 1 (880340-1654): Minutes of meetings of the Council of Psychiatric Nurses (1951-1958), including lists of licensed nurses and nurses whose licenses were cancelled.

Box 2 (002235-0001): correspondence, report, and brief regarding an investigation of certain conditions at Essondale (Bloomfield 1947); report by a special committee on operations of the Provincial Mental Hospital (1948); report by the Inspector of Hospitals on some phases of the operations of the Provincial Mental Hospital of B.C. (Percy Ward Report, 1943); a survey of the Mental Hospitals of British Columbia (Hamilton Report, 1938); report on the Provincial Mental Hospital of British Columbia made by the central inspection board of the American Psychiatric Association (1951); Mental Hospital Survey Report (1966).

Photographs (accession 197909-040) include ca. 350 b&w and colour images of provincial mental hospitals including Essondale, Jericho, Kamloops; Marpole, Allco Infirmary, Homes for Aged, Tranquille, Willow Chest Clinic, Burnaby-residential treatment unit, Woodlands and Colquitz mental home closing, January 1964

British Columbia. Mental Health Services

Mental Health Services correspondence

  • GR-0283
  • Series
  • 1947-1966

The series consists of correspondence of the Deputy Minister and minutes pertaining to the federal Advisory Committee on Mental Health, 1947-1966; report on mental health legislation in B.C., by the Faculty of Law, U.B.C., May 1959; and correspondence and position papers of the province at various federal-provincial conferences and for various Royal Commissions.

British Columbia. Mental Health Services

Supervisor of Psychiatric Social Work files

  • GR-0374
  • Series
  • 1948-1971

This series consists of the records of the Supervisor of Psychiatric Social Work. Includes subject files, personnel files, correspondence and other records.

British Columbia. Mental Health Services

Mental Health Branch records

  • GR-0377
  • Series
  • 1947-1969

The series consists of the records of Mr. Matheson, Business Manager (later Comptroller) of the Mental Hospitals. It includes agendas and minutes of the assessment committee from 1947 to 1965, outlining assets of the patients and their immediate family to determine their ability to pay to stay in mental health facilities. The series also includes records relating to branch staff conferences (1960-1968), meetings and records of the core committee for the planning of mental health facilities (1964-1965). Additional file subjects include visit to the California Neuropsychiatric Institute, Mental Health Centre Conference, Comptroller's monthly reports, and BC Government Employees Associate strike committee. Records related to Woodlands and Essondale.

British Columbia. Mental Health Services

Mental Health Services Director's administrative records

  • GR-0542
  • Series
  • 1907-1961

The series consists of the administrative files of the Director of Mental Health Services. The bulk of the records are general correspondence, monthly reports (i.e. statistical summaries) and project files relating to the administration of the province's mental health care facilities.

Most of the files consist of Dr. Crease's general administrative files, however, many of the files predate Dr. Crease's administration (1926-1950) and some extend as far back as 1907. General correspondence is filed chronologically, while project files are maintained by subject. Included in the subject files is a series of correspondence from the C.C.F. leader Ernest Winch (MLA for Burnaby) who took a special interest in the provision of Mental Health Services.

Also included in this series are "monthly reports" - statistical summaries - pertaining to the operations of provincial mental health facilities and three architectural drawings (re-accessioned as M889129).

British Columbia. Mental Health Services

Operational records

  • GR-0960
  • Series
  • 1946-2010

This series consists of Mental Health Services operational records. Records include agendas and minutes, correspondence, personnel files, and reports for a variety of mental health facilities across the province. The records were created between 1946 and 2010 and document the changing nature of mental health service delivery in the province. The series includes the admissions and discharge register for Hollywood Hospital for the years 1968 to 1973, and also consists of plans and policy documents for the transition from a institutional model of care to one centered on community-based boarding and group homes.

The series was originally arranged into 16 subseries in the 1990s. Further accruals were arranged to fit the existing model with one additional subseries added to accommodate financial records. Several of the existing subseries were merged in 2016 to simplify and streamline the arrangement. Subseries that were merged include “Mental Health Centres : monthly reports” and “Victoria Mental Health Centre,” which became “Mental Health Centres.” The “Glendale Lodge/Hospital” and “Skeenaview Hospital” subseries were merged to become the “Other facilities and services” subseries. The scope of the original “Meetings” subseries was expanded to include the records of a variety of committees, and the “Reports” subseries was expanded to include policy and planning documents, including those relating directly to patient care. The series is now arranged into 13 subseries : Boarding home and group home programmes; comptroller records; correspondence; facilities : Riverview Hospital; facilities : other mental health facilities and services; finance, grants, and budget; meetings and committees; mental health centres; Mental Health Services branch; miscellaneous; personnel; reports, programs, and planning; and youth mental health.

The Boarding Homes subseries (accessions 88-0056 and 93-4010) documents the shift towards de-institutionalization and the provision of mental health services within the community. The subseries consists of monthly reports and planning and policy documents.

The Comptroller subseries (88-0056) consists of monthly reports written between 1970 and 1972.

The Correspondence subseries (88-0056, 93-4010 and 95-4372) includes correspondence outward, with attachments, from the Mental Health Branch. It also includes material addressed to, or coming from the Health Minister and circulated through the Branch for action or information. Most correspondence on the Branch side is from the Deputy Minister of Mental Health, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Mental Health, and a Branch Administrative officer.

The Riverview Hospital subseries (88-0056, 93-4010, 95-4372, and 96-7394) consists of correspondence, monthly reports, planning documents and statistical files. The records date from the early 1970s until just prior to the hospital’s 2012 closure. Records include the statistical schedule of the 1971 census (no nominal or personal information is included), monthly reports, correspondence, and a set of redevelopment planning files from the 1990s and 2000s.

The Other Facilities and Services subseries (88-0056, 93-4010, 95-4372, and 95-9744) consists of minutes, correspondence, and monthly reports pertaining to Glendale Lodge, Skeenaview Hospital, Valleyview Hospital, Dellview Hospital and Skeleem Lodge, in addition to records documenting home support, outreach and mental health care in smaller communities. The series also consists of the 1968-1973 admissions and discharges register of Hollywood Hospital.

The Finance, Grants and Budget subseries (93-4010) consists of correspondence and other records regarding community grants, lottery fund grants, and general finances for mental health facilities.

The Meetings and Committees subseries (88-0056, 94-4010, 95-4372, and 95-9744) consists of meeting agendas and minutes for a variety of committees. The subseries also consists of records pertaining to various related organizations, such as the Alcoholic Foundation of BC and the BC Medical Association.

The Mental Health Centres subseries (88-0056 and 93-4010) consists of records pertaining to a variety of small facilities and sub-offices located across the province. The records are arranged in alphabetical order by location. The Skeena Mental Health Centre files contain additional reports such as those describing meetings, physical plant proposals, etc.

The Mental Health Services branch subseries (88-0056 and 93-4010) consists of records relating directly to the branch’s operation. The series includes records relating to staff meetings and the branch’s establishment.

The Miscellaneous subseries (88-0056 and 93-4010) consists of copies of legislation and research conducted by staff at the Mental Health Services branch. Records also include proposed amendments and improvements to the mental health diagnostic code.

The Personnel subseries (88-0056 and 93-4010) consists of staff personnel files, files for post-graduate training, and files documenting the appointment and resignation of physicians. Personnel files from accession 93-4010 are arranged in alphabetical files organized by the first letter of the surname.

The Reports, Programs and Planning subseries (88-0056, 93-4010, 95-4372, 95-9744, and 96-8412) consists of monthly reports from other government departments in addition to research reports used by the branch for policy development. Records dating to the 2000s include policy development, government responses to crises such as crystal meth and other drug addictions, and best practices for treatment.

The Youth Mental Health subseries (88-0056, 93-4010, 95-4372 and 95-9744) consists of monthly reports, statistics, and correspondence regarding programs for youth and the BC Youth Development Centre “The Maples.”

The series is covered by ORCS 36100-20. However, a small number of records are also covered by ORCS 36200-20, 36300-40, and 36400-30, as well as ARCS 280-30 and 350-25. Due to the interrelated nature of the records and the existing arrangement structure, it was decided to keep all records within the same series.

British Columbia. Mental Health Services

Mental hospital records

  • GR-1754
  • Series
  • 1872-1962

The series consists of records created by the Provincial Mental Health Services between 1872 and 1962 and includes
admission registers (1872-1902 and 1913-1960), case histories (1887-1908), patients registers (alphabetical lists of patients) (1900-1913 and 1922-1946), probation records (1911-1939), a patient transfer book (1918-1962) and a book of medical certificates of death (1911-1915).

The series also includes the journal of W. Mackie (February 8 - March 2, 1935), who accompanied 65 Chinese patients who were deported to China in 1935. The journal lists the names of the patients and gives information about their voyage. The annual report of the mental hospital for 1935 (Sessional Papers 1936) mentions that 65 Chinese patients were repatriated that year.

The registers contain useful information, including age, sex, marital status, paying or free, date of admission, religion, country of birth, present residence, duration of mental malady, diagnosis, supposed cause, number of attacks, occupation, degree of education and bodily state on admission. The admission registers are an index to the patient files because the register number assigned at admission was used as the patient file number.

British Columbia. Mental Health Services


  • GR-2854
  • Series
  • 1928-1959

The series consists of certificates from the American Hospital Association, the American College of Surgeons and the American Psychiatric Association Hospital Service to the Provincial Mental Hospital and Crease Clinic of Psychological Medicine.

British Columbia. Mental Health Services

Mental Health Services patient case files

  • GR-2880
  • Series
  • 1872-1987

The series consists of patient case files for persons admitted to any of the facilities of the Mental Health Services between 1872 and 1987, including Essondale (later Riverview), Valleyview, Dellview, Skeenaview, Crease Clinic and Colquitz Provincial Mental Hospital for the Criminally Insane (Victoria).

The earliest files are slim, usually including only the doctor's certificates of commitment. The early files include persons who were admitted to the lunatic asylum as soon as it opened in Victoria, having previously been confined in the gaol.

A patient case file may include: a photograph or multiple photographs of the patient; certificate of examination of a patient's clothing and person on admission; admission details including diagnosis; medical reports and certificates; application for an order for admission of a patient or of a "lunatic" wandering at large; laboratory report; sleep and weight chart; clinical chart including observation of patient; clinical record; permission for therapy and treatment; correspondence; ward notes; records of family history, personal history, present illness, mental status and physical examination; visitor register; propensity slip; admission information to the Inspector of Municipalities; doctor's reports; statements and letters written by the patient; list of personal property; psychopathic history record (form filled in by next of kin); special discharge on probation; neuropsychiatric cases on release from hospital; Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment medical history of an invalid form; Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment medical report for engagement on re-treatment; certificate of registration of death; report of death to Provincial Secretary; notice of registration of death; autopsy; news clippings about the patient and a published obituary.

British Columbia. Mental Health Services

Photographs of institutions operated by the Mental Health Services

  • GR-3419
  • Series
  • 1948-1967

The series consists of approximately 5250 black and white photographic negatives taken by Mental Health Services between 1948 and 1967. The negatives are acetate and are mostly in a 4 x 5 format with some 35 mm. There are 62 black and white prints interfiled with the negatives.

The photographs are of various British Columbia mental health institutions including the Boys Industrial School, Colony Farm, Colquitz Mental Home (Saanich), the Home for the Aged in Vernon and in Terrace, Woodlands School, Essondale (Coquitlam) and the Crease Clinic.

The photographs depict the grounds and buildings (both internal and external views) of the mental health institutions as well as photographs of construction and equipment. There are photographs of staff and patients involved in a variety of activities including medical treatments, events, ceremonies, leisure activities and other programs.

The negative files are arranged numerically in seven boxes: 1-657, 658-1004, 1005-1135, 1136-1242, 1245-1325, 1326-1409 and 1410-1499.

British Columbia. Dept. of the Provincial Secretary

Pathological master file photographs

  • GR-3420
  • Series
  • 1946-1967

The series, called the pathological master file, consists of ca. 1483 photographs and their card index file created by the Mental Health Services between 1946 and 1967. The photographs consist mostly of black and white prints and 4 x 5 acetate negatives. There are also a few colour negatives and transparencies and 2 glass negatives.

The photographs are of the patients at Crease Clinic, Essondale and Woodlands School and document adults and children with various conditions, both physical and mental. There are whole body shots as well as close up's of specific conditions and injuries. In addition there are numerous photographs of brain samples to illustrate the pathology. The photographs have been numbered and the prints are filed within the card index, which is arranged alphabetically by condition. There is a card for each file which identifies the patient, date the photograph(s) were taken and the condition. The negatives are arranged separately by file number. There are also some unnumbered and unidentified photographs. The negatives are in containers 890935-0008 and 0009 and the prints and card file are in containers 890935-0011 and 0012.

British Columbia. Dept. of the Provincial Secretary

Staff and patient photographs

  • GR-3421
  • Series
  • 1950-1967

The series consists of approximately 1005 black and white photographs taken by Mental Health Services between 1950 and 1967. The photographs consist of black and white prints and 4 x 5 acetate negatives.

The photographs are of Mental Health Services staff based at Essondale, Crease Clinic and Woodlands School. Some patient photographs are included. Some of the photographs show staff at work and were used for annual reports and other publications and some are "passport" style portraits. Most of the people in the photographs are identified and many include photograph classification numbers.

The photographs are arranged alphabetically by last name. The prints are in container 890935-0012 and the negatives are in container 890935-0010.

British Columbia. Dept. of the Provincial Secretary

Riverview Hospital historical collection

  • Collection
  • 1872-2008

This series consists of a variety of records created by various provincial mental health institutions from 1872 to 2008. Records relate to the administration and operation of Riverview Hospital and related mental health facilities at the Essondale site in Coquitlam, as well as other facilities across the province. These mental health institutions include: Victoria Asylum, New Westminster Provincial Asylum (later Public Hospital for the Insane or Provincial Hospital for the Insane), Home for the Aged Coquitlam (later Valleyview), Home for the Aged Terrace (later Skeenaview), Home for the Aged Vernon (later Dellview), Crease Clinic, Colony Farm, Colquitz, Woodlands School, Tranquille and other medical facilities.

The names and administrative structure of these institutions changed over time. Mental health functions were originally part of the Provincial Secretary’s mandate; they were transferred to Mental Health Services when it was created in 1950.

These government records were collected by the Riverview Historical Society and include a wide variety of subject matter and media. This includes subjects such as: early development of the Essondale lands and Colony Farm; the construction and expansion of the facility; admissions, transfers, and discharges of patients; administration of patient care; administration of therapy programs; patient and staff recreation; staff and nurse training; operation of the audiovisual department; library services; research into new medical and therapeutic practices; research by staff regarding mental health practices at Riverview and further afield; community involvement; volunteer activity; policy development; the redevelopment of the Riverview lands; general administration; and, administration of other services at the site such as postal, food, laundry, banking, transportation and safety services.

The collection has been arranged into the following series based on record types:

GR-3924 - record books
GR-3925 - operational records
GR-3926 - newsletters
GR-3927 - photographs and other graphic material
GR-3928 - films and videos

Classified as 20000-20 in Operational Records Classification System (ORCS) schedule 144007.

British Columbia. Dept. of the Provincial Secretary