This Project

This Project

The After the Asylum project web pages have been co-created by academic scholars, community partners, students, activists, and people whose lives have intersected with deinstitutionalization in various ways.  Gathering this history and making it public has been a powerful and often hopeful process, reminding us that we must constantly push the boundaries of what is considered possible in the mental health world.

Interested in this project or our work?  Contact us:


Leslie Baker is a PhD student at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research deals with the history of mental health institutions.

Lanny Beckman, BA, MA, has had a number of careers, including acting in director Larry Kent’s pioneering Canadian film productions. In the early 1970s he started MPA (Mental Patients Association), from 1975 until 1990 he was editor and publisher of New Star Press, and more recently he has participated in several projects relating to the History of Madness in Canada website, including the MPA documentary The Inmates Are Running the Asylum.

Geertje Boschma is a professor at the University of British Columbia whose primary research focus is the history of nursing and health care with a specific emphasis on mental health. In addition to her involvement with the After the Asylum project she works on projects related to the history of general hospital psychiatry and the transition to community mental health.

Michael Burtt is a community artist in Toronto and facilitator of the Making Room program at PARC (Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre.)

Dominic Dagenais est titulaire d’une maîtrise en histoire obtenue à l’Université de Montréal. Il travaille présentement sur une thèse de doctorat portant sur l’histoire de l’homosexualité à Montréal à l’Université du Québec à Montréal.

Dominic Dagenais has completed an MA in history at the University of Montreal. He is currently working on a doctoral thesis on the history of homosexuality in Montreal at the University of Quebec in Montreal.

Megan Davies, a social historian of health with a regional specialization in BC, has researched and published on old age, social and health policy, madness, food history and home health. Since 2000 she has been involved in educational and research projects connected to the History of Madness in Canada website including working as film producer and co-creator of The Inmates Are Running the Asylum. Megan teaches in the Health & Society Program at York University.

Chris Dooley is an historian who specializes in the history of mental health care in Western Canada and in the history of psychiatric nursing.  He lives in Winnipeg where he has teaches Canadian History at the University of Winnipeg, and he is a public member of the Board of the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Manitoba.

Erika Dyck is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in History of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.  She is the author of Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus (2008) and Facing Eugenics: Sterilization, Reproduction and the Politics of Choice (2013).

Geoff Gans, a Toronto resident, is a PARC member.

Sheila Gibbons is in the PhD program in History at York University studying the history of eugenics.  She is the author of “Our Power to Remodel Civilization”: The Development of Eugenic Feminism in Alberta, 1909-1921,” which was published in the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History in 2014.

Alanna James is a Master’s student in the History Department at the University of New Brunswick. Her thesis research examines depictions of Confederation in CBC radio programming leading up to Canada’s Centennial celebrations in 1967.

Kathleen Kendall is Associate Professor in Sociology as Applied to Medicine at the University of Southampton, UK. Her research is broadly focused upon patient and provider experiences of treatment for mental health issues.

Eugène Leblanc has been the director of the Moncton based self-help center: Groupe de support émotionnel inc, and the Publisher and Editor of Our Voice / Notre Voix since 1987. He was awarded the New Brunswick Human Rights Award in 2003.

Depuis 1987, Eugène LeBlanc est le directeur du centre d’entraide de Moncton; le Groupe de support émotionnel inc et l’Éditeur de la revue Our Voix / Notre Voix. Il fut le récipiendaire du Prix des droits de la personne du Nouveau-Brunswick en 2003.

Robert Menzies is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University, and a founding member of the History of Madness in Canada website collective.  His most recent book, co-edited with Brenda A. LeFrançois and Geoffrey Reaume, is Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies (Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2013).

Taegan McFarlane is a student at the University of Saskatchewan, currently working on finishing up an honours degree in History.  Their interests include Canadian Indigenous history, consumer/survivor activism and creativity, queer theory, and long bike rides.

Taegan McFarlane est une étudiante de l’Université du Saskatchewan, en train de compléter ton baccalauréat en l’histoire. Ses intérêts est l’histoire Indigènes au Canada,  l’activisme et la créativité de les consommateurs/survivants, la théorie queer, et des promenades à vélo de longue durée.

Tracey Mitchell is a community organizer based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She coordinates the Next Up Saskatchewan leadership program for young social change leaders, recently began working as a Peer Mentor in Adult Mental Health & Addictions Services at Saskatoon Health Region, and is a board member with The Council of Canadians and a leadership fellow with The Broadbent Institute.

Marina Morrow, PhD, is the Director, Centre for the Study of Gender, Social Inequities and Mental Health and an Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver Canada. In her work, Marina is interested in better understanding the social, political and institutional processes through which health and mental health policies and practices are developed and how social and health inequities are sustained or attenuated for different populations.

Lyndsay Rosenthal completed an MA in 2013 at Memorial University and is now enrolled in the PhD program at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her current research is on prostitution and venereal disease in the Canadian Expeditionary force during the First World War.

Lyndsay Rosenthal  complété ma maîtrise en 2013 à l’Université Memorial et je vais commencer la deuxième année de mon programme de doctorat à l’Université Wilfird Laurier cet automne. Ma recherche actuelle est la prostitution et les maladies vénériennes dans la force expéditionnaire canadien pendant la Première Guerre mondiale.

PARC (Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre), founded in 1980, is a community support organization in Toronto that helps people rebuild their lives.

Bob Rose is a writer, canoeist, and pivotal person at PARC (Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre), where he has worked since the 1980s.

Nérée St-Amand, a native of New Brunswick, was shocked when he first visited one of his relatives who had been involuntarily hospitalized in one of his province’s two asylums. He then completed his PhD thesis on non-voluntary commitment and treatment of psychiatrized populations (The Politics of Madness, Fernwood, 1985). He has continued to explore both the trends of psychiatric diagnosis and drugs as well as the multitude of unexplored alternatives to this oppressive system. For four years, he has represented the families in the Mental Health Commission of Canada. He is a tenured professor at the School of Social Work, University of Ottawa, a school he created in 1990.

Nérée St-Amands’ intéresse à la santé mentale depuis plus de trente ans. Tout a débuté lorsqu’une parente a été admise en institution psychiatrique dans les années 1970. C’est alors qu’il a commencé à questionner le peu de liens entre la psychiatrie asilaire et la santé mentale. À ce jour, il continue d’étudier les conséquences d’une psychiatrie invasive sur les femmes, les jeunes, les personnes âgées, les minorités. Ce faisant, il propose des alternatives tout aussi efficaces que moins couteuses et moins dommageables pour la santé des personnes affectées. Il a signé plusieurs articles et volumes sur le sujet, s’intéressant en particulier à son Acadie natale tout en continuant d’enseigner à l’École de service social de l’Université d’Ottawa, école qu’il a d’ailleurs créé en 1990

Marie-Claude Thifault, historienne spécialiste de l’univers asilaire québécois et canadien, est professeure agrégée à l’École des sciences infirmières de l’Université d’Ottawa, titulaire de la Chaire de recherche sur la francophonie canadienne en santé et directrice the l’Unité de recherche sur l’histoire du nursing.

Marie-Claude Thifault, a historian specializing in the history of asylums in Quebec and Canada, is an associate professor in the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences. She is the Director of the Nursing history research unit and has been named University of Ottawa Research Chair in health and the Canadian francophonie.

Jayne Melville Whyte, B.A., is an independent author and speaker with experiential and research interest in mental health topics.  She entered the mental health system in 1965 on the cusp between institutional and community services and has been active in the Canadian Mental Health Association since 1975.  Jayne lives and writes in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Accessing the exhibits:

Whenever possible, documents, images, audio and video footage on After the Asylum site have been made fully accessible through the use of alt tags and transcriptions. However, funding limitations have made it impossible to provide complete transcriptions of book manuscripts and to subtitle the National Film Board production Feelings of Depression (1950). Rather than exclude these items from the site, we include them in their original format with this explanation.