The Canadian census in 1881,1891 and 1901 used the words “deaf and dumb”, “blind” and “unsound mind” relating to “infirmities" worthy of identification. By 1911 they had replaced “unsound mind” with “crazy or lunatic” and “idiotic or silly”. I would suggest that was a step backwards! Connotations may have changed over the years, but I think these words are derogatory and hurtful. Perhaps this sentiment is one reason why people were not always declared as such in the census, even if they "qualified". Many families also tried to keep such conditions secret, perhaps to avoid ridicule, shame or sensor.
It must have been shortly after the 1901 census that Mary moved to Winnipeg Manitoba to be with or near her youngest son Horace Melville COMPTON (known as Mel). Mel is said to have moved there when in his early 20s; he turned 20 in 1892, and certainly moved there with his brother Leslie before 1901. And when Mary moved to Winnipeg she brought along her daughter Fanny. In 1904 her brother Mel married Flora Larkin. Sadly Mary died in Winnipeg the following year at the age of 77; her daughter Fanny was then almost 48 and still single. The informant on Mary's death registration was a company (perhaps her lawyer or funeral home) - why not one of her 2 nearby children? After Mary's will was probated in early 1907, her estate was equally divided between Horace Melville and Fanny Louisa. But in the meantime, according to the 1906 Canadian “Prairie” census, Fanny was living with Mel and Flora along with several boarders in Winnipeg.
Then once again everything changed. In the 1921 census I found “Fanny Mac Millan” listed as a 63-year-old inmate in the BC Mental Hospital in New Westminster BC. The municipality of Penticton is also mentioned in the census (implying this is where she was admitted from). So this entry seems to be for the right person. Fanny’s death record confirms that “Fanny Mcmillan” died from pneumonia at age 67 on 23 Jan 1925 in the Public Hospital for the Insane, B Street, New Westminster, having been there for the last 7 years, formerly of Penticton. James is nowhere to be found until his death in Penticton in 1931.
Why did she need hospitalization? I am assuming that more detailed records would be of a confidential nature, even if I could find them. Did she always have mental problems that worsened? Or was this a new heath issue for her? Or was it more a matter of containment of someone who was intellectually challenged? Without further details I can only hope that she was well and properly cared for. Yet she was certainly denied her freedom for the last seven years of her life. How sad is that.
History of Madness in Canada - BC
Woodlands School, New Westminster, previously Provincial Lunatic Asylum - wikipedia
Woodlands - Inclusion BC site
Riverview Hospital (Essondale), Coquitlam - wikipedia
"52 Ancestors" is a reference to the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge I am participating in.
Reference the No Story Too Small blog by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow for more details.
It is giving me the much needed incentive to write and publish my family stories.