Sur quelques visages de la folie à Saint-Jean-de-Dieu au tournant du siècle dernier


  • André Cellard
  • Marie-Claude Thifault


Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Hospital, at the far east end of Montreal, is presented as the ideal site for uncovering the lives of men and women institutionalized for madness in Quebec. Recognized as the largest asylum for the insane in Canada, it housed a clientele not only from Montreal but also from all corners of the province of Quebec, a characteristic that offers, under the same roof, a sample population representative of the entire province. As part of a project involving the history of marginalized populations of Montreal, the authors undertook a systematic, quantitative retrieval of information from almost 10,000 files of patients committed to Saint-Jean-de-Dieu. The quantitative data allowed them to reveal profiles of those institutionalized from the establishment of the asylum in 1873 up to 1921. The correspondence contained in the medical files of about 300 patients, however, made it possible to trace the “faces” of madness. Six broad categories emerged repeatedly: broken relationships, conjugal violence, those considered undesirable, the forgotten, the persecuted, and those committed unjustly.






Research Notes