Abandoned Rideau Regional Centre Urban Exploring

Abandoned Rideau Regional Centre Urban Exploring

The now Abandoned Rideau Regional Centre, located in Smiths Falls, Ontario, opened in 1951 as the Ontario Hospital School. Along with similar residential institutions throughout Ontario, it was designed to house individuals who were deemed to have cognitive and physical disabilities.

Individuals could be admitted by parents and guardians, training schools, or the Children’s Aid Society.

At its peak, Rideau’s population exceeded 2,600 people in 1955, even though it was only built to accommodate 1,500. By the mid 1970s, the Ontario government operated 16 such facilities across the province.

In the 1950s and 60s, there were few community services and supports available for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

That began changing in the 1970s when schools and workshops and other community support for people with developmental disabilities were introduced.

Rideau was one of the last three facilities of its kind in Ontario, along with the Southwestern Regional Centre in Chatham-Kent and the Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia, all of which closed in 2009




After the facilities closed, after former residents of a number of Ontario institutions filed class action lawsuits claiming neglect and abuse, and after the premier apologized for their pain

Hepatitis B was widespread at Rideau Regional, especially among patients with down syndrome. A study in the 1970s found that more than 90 per cent of residents with Down syndrome in the sample group had contracted hepatitis B at some point, and one-quarter of them had developed a chronic case. A larger survey at Huronia found similar results.

On March 31, 2009, the lights went out for good at the Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia and the Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls, the oldest and the largest residential institutions in the province.

At the end of 2013 it was announced that tentative settlements totaling $32.7 million had been reached for former residents of two Ontario institutions for the developmentally disabled who alleged they were abused at the facilities.

The two institutions were the Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls, Ont., and the Southwestern Regional Centre near Chatham, Ont.

In 2016 it was announced that an Ontario court had approved a $36-million compensation deal for people mistreated at 12 now-closed institutions for adults with mental disabilities.

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