Construction of Rockwood Asylum began in 1859 to house the "criminally insane" of Kingston Penitentiary. The asylum's site overlooking Lake Ontario was thought to have a calming effect on patients. The new limestone edifice - still situated near here - began accepting non-criminal patients in 1868. Rockwood became part of the Ontario provincial asylum system in 1877.
Kingston Penitentiary convicts were conscripted to build Rockwood. Architect William Coverdale's progressive design featured larger rooms with windows and some common sitting rooms. Rockwood also had one of the first central heating systems in Canada, deemed safer than stoves and open fires.
Rockwood was a self-sufficient community with almost all of its staff and patients living and working together on one isolated site. This was thought to create a protective environment for patients at Rockwood - a sanctuary away from the world. The institution's strict controls also served to keep inmates away from the rest of society.
This text and more from Museum of Health Care
With great thanks to Ontario Realty, I wandered this property and, as you can imagine, stood in awe. The main building is constantly being watched for breaches as it is apparently a favourite for the homeless. I myself was not allowed into the main building due to air quality issues, but was granted access to a couple of the surrounding buildings from the same period.