The lonely madness of Alice G
Globe and Mail Update
June 19, 2008 at 10:04 PM EDT
Alice G was driven mad by a broken heart, so said her doctors.
At 39, the unmarried housekeeper from Belleville, Ont., walked through the doors of the Toronto Asylum for the Insane, as it was called in 1893, and never saw the outside world again.
Her mother, the commitment papers suggest, had appealed to doctors for help. Alice spoke to people who didn't exist. She claimed to be a “prophetess” under orders from Heaven, and predicted she would give birth to two babies, one silver, one gold. She was reportedly infatuated with a local doctor.
Explaining the “supposed existing cause of insanity,” the physician who committed her scrawled on her form: “disappointment in love affairs.”
Beside occupation, he wrote: “Spinster.”
By society's standards, Alice G was to be pitied: childless, poor, lovelorn and, worst of all, insane.
In the asylum, what came to be called 999 Queen Street – and is now the site for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – Alice was crowded into a dormitory, without a private toilet, where the residents regularly complained of chills and rats.
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