Save the Weyburn Mental Hospital

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Dear Honourable Minister Christine Tell,

We are writing this letter to you as an urgent plea for action. We are about to lose a key monument of Canadian history and are in dire need of intervention. The Souris Valley Hospital (a.k.a. Weyburn Mental Hospital) in Weyburn, Saskatchewan is an internationally recognized landmark, but is now facing imminent demolition by the City. Despite the importance of this monument, the city cannot afford to restore the structure. Instead, the site will be cleared and replaced with residential complexes. We do not support the citys decision in this regard; any act of destruction would be a blatant disregard for the historical value that this building holds.

The Weyburn Mental Hospital first opened in 1921 and had the capacity to hold nearly 3,000 patients. The centre was denoted as the largest building in the entire British Commonwealth. The preeminent psychiatrist Dr. Humphrey Osmond came from Britain and conducted the famous LSD studies with schizophrenia patients in Weyburn. Several clinical trials for many of the cutting-edge treatments of that time were also performed there, including electroconvulsive shock therapy, insulin therapy, and even lobotomies. Apart from the pioneering research that took place inside the hospital, the building itself is an architectural masterpiece. Nested in the woods, it spans a staggering 500,000 square feet. No other building in Canada can boast such stature. Simply looking at the towering structure, one can sense its historical significance as it represents over 80 years of medical history. Tearing it down would be a horrible mistake.

However, there IS a solution to this problem. Demolition should NOT be an option just yet. Neil Richardson, president of the Heritage Property Corporation of Calgary, had put forth a proposal to restore the site. He requested a 90-day period from the City of Weyburn to conduct an assessment, but his offer was turned down. The demolition process has now begun and is expected to be completed by December 2009. As such, the community of Weyburn and its supporters are urging you to issue a temporary stop work order to re-evaluate the situation. We have been in contact with Mr. Richardson, and his company is still eager and willing to preserve this historical site. If the company is given even a 60-day period, they will step in and create a proposed plan to rescue this valued piece of Canadian history.

We submit this petition to you with signatures of people from across the world who wish to preserve this historic structure. Thus, we hope you will seriously reconsider the implications of demolishing the Souris Valley Hospital in Weyburn.