Lunatic Asylum, Mount Hope

18th Sept., 1873

Rev. Sir, -- I take the liberty of addressing you, as I understand you were making enquiries last evening about injuries received by Abraham Landre whom you visited here, and I am in a position to give you some information. Landre, it seems, used to assist in the dining room in this ward, and about March last some altercation with one Dyke, an attendant, who cruelly kicked and stamped upon him, inflicting the injuries, from the effects of which the unhappy man is now dying. Dyke, whose christian name is Edwin, (but I am not quite sure, as some say it is Isaac,) was afterwards discharged, but not for this matter, as the other patients were too much intimidated at the time to give evidence, thought some enquiries were made. I, myself, was not here at the time, but there are two convalescent patients, Charles Thomson and Benjamin King, who are still in the ward, witnessed the assault, and can give you all the particulars, should you require them. Edwin Dyke, I understand is a discharged soldier, and resides in Halifax. The man Wm. McDonald, whom you saw on his dying bed, sometimes since, was in this ward, he was struck with death while sitting at the dinner table, was then removed to another ward, and died the same night; he was a quiet man, took no exercise, and pined away. I never saw the Superintendent even speak to him, or feel his pulse in his rare visits to the ward, though the man’s life was evidently waning fast.

I trust, Rev. sir, that you will not think me officious in making these matters known to you; but I, myself, have suffered so cruelly from brutal usage in this place that I wish, if possible, to save other poor creatures from similar treatment. I was brought here on the 7th June, and the next day, Sunday, I was brutally kicked and beaten; news of the outrage leaked out in my case and three attendants, Wm. Neil, and Alex. McCoy, were discharged in consequence; but I do not think I shall ever completely recover from the injuries then received. My treatment has been good since that time. I have no personal animosity towards the Superintendent, Dr. DeWolf, whom I have always found courteous; but I have no hesitation in stating that he grossly neglects his duty of personal supervision and inquiry into individual cases, else such things as I have mentioned could never have happened. Several similar cases of ill-usage, though not to quite the same extend, have come under my own eye. The secrecy which shrouds everything is also a very bad feature of the management here; friends are rarely allowed to see the patients, and visitors are only taken to wards kept in order for show, while other reek with filth and misery. I have been in this ward, containing about 30 patients, for three months and-a-half, and you, Rev. Sir, are the only clergyman who has entered it in that time.

You are quite at liberty to make any use of this letter you may deem fit, and I remain, Rev. Sir,

Respectfully yours,

Peter McNab.

Rev. Mr. Woods, etc., etc.

Source: Peter McNab, Letter by Peter McNab read as testimony in the Inquiry of the Management of the Nova Scotia Hospital for the Insane, 1877, (: , 1879), 7-8.

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