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The provision of mental health services had its beginning in October 1872 when the Royal Hospital in Victoria was designated as the first Provincial Asylum under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Secretary.
On April 1, 1950 the British Columbia Mental Health Service was formally established and various mental health activities were amalgamated including New Westminster Hospital (which became Woodlands School), Colquitz Provincial Mental Hospital for the Criminally Insane (in Victoria), Essondale (including Crease clinic) and the Home for the Aged (in Coquitlam, Vernon and Terrace).
In 1959, Mental Health Services was transferred to the Dept. of Health Services and Hospital Insurance. The name was changed in 1967 to Mental Health Branch and changed again in 1975 to Mental Health Programs. The name reverted to Mental Health Services in 1980.
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. F.G. Tucker as the Deputy Minister, located in Victoria. In September 1971 the position of Director was terminated. The statutory obligations of the Director were assumed by the Deputy Minister.
Scope and content
The series consists of patient case files for persons admitted to any of the facilities of the Mental Health Services between 1872 and 1969, 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.
Immediate source of acquisition
The files are roughly arranged in case file number order but files that were reactivated may show up in later boxes.
Accession 91-4268 (G87-024) contains files closed between 1872-1942. These were selected and weeded by Hospital staff in 1974 under OIC 2908/74 before being transferred in 1987.
Accession 93-5683 contains files closed between 1943-1969 that were transferred in 2000. These were selected and weeded by Hospital staff according to the Hospital Policy of December 1, 1975. Many of the files are stamped with a notice of destruction (used when weeding a file).
93-7364: The creator arranged the files numerically by a file code. It appears multiple codes are related to the same person, indicating a file code was created for each admission to an institution for the same client. Multiple codes may appear on a file folder. Notes sometimes exist which make cross-references (to a different file for the same person, in a different box). In other cases, the multiple files on a client may be held within one folder.
93-7608 was transferred to the BC Archives in 2019. It consists primarily of files that were closed between 1970 and 1975.
91-3991 was transferred to the BC Archives in 2019. It consists primarily of files closed between 1976 and 1987.
Language of material
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An old finding aid for accession 91-4268 exists, which only lists the file range in each box.
GR-1754 - Mental hospital records
GR-3019 - Provincial mental hospital registers