Taken Before A Commission Appointed By
His Honour The Lieutenant Governor In Council,
To Investigate The Management Of
Mount Hope Asylum For The Insane.

Wednesday, May 9, 1877.


Peter Ross, Esq., was then sworn, and in answer to questions from members of the Commission gave evidence as follows:


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Q. Then your idea is that the Doctor (De Wolf) and his family should be separate [from the other hospital employees in the dining room]?
A. It is immaterial to Dr. De Wolf, provided he acts upon the basis upon which he was engaged. But I contend that the others, at all events, who are supplied by the Hospital should have one table. There should have been a separate memorandum book of his supplies.

Q. Suppose that out of $400 worth of groceries supplied by a contractor Dr. De Wolf gets fifty dollars worth, is there any way by which you can tell that?
A. No, except by keeping a memorandum.

Q. Was there any memorandum kept?
A. I never knew of any.
The result of keeping a number of separate tables is to increase the expense. Each one wants the best joint, and does not want the joint to come back to the table again. It also increases the number of servants. You cannot have four tables waited upon by one person.
Another thing, Dr. De Wolf has said there is no room at the Hospital, that it is overflowed. He occupies eleven rooms for himself and his wife. If he had a large family it would be different.
With regard to the physicians in the establishment, I have been under the impression that there is no occasion for an assistant, that there should be medical Superintendent and two students that could be taken and kept in the establishment, possibly giving them their board and about fifty dollars a year for clothing, which would afford them good practice, and effect a saving to the institution, besides giving our own people an idea of its working.

Q. Where does the supply of water come from?
A. Maynard’s lake.

Q. It is said to be quite inefficient?
A. It is, inasmuch as it is tapped by two or three parties.

Q. Is that with the permission of the authorities?
A. Some of them, I believe. It was with the permission of the government. Mott gets his, Dr. Parker and Mr. Troop. I think that is all.

Q. Have they force enough to come up to these stories?
A. They may have before being tapped. There are tanks at the top. During the day those are quite empty from being used for the water closets. The other day Mr. Dixon had on a force pump which he found pretty effective, but without that the supply for extinguishing fires is inadequate. Those cisterns at the top fill up during the night from the flow of the lake, but during the day that is drawn off. In case of fire I do not think you could get the water up as high as this (Assistant-Physicians room, third floor).

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Q. Have you any buckets?
A. There are five extinguishers.

Q. The report says there seemed to be only one person who understood the use of those.
A. That was, I think, at the first inspection. That has since been remedied—except the supply of water.

Q. What was the condition of the fire apparatus before it was remedied?
A. It was inefficient—no hose, and nobody that knew how to connect it when there was hose—no branches, spanners or wrenches. These have been remedied.

Q. But before that, in case of a fire happening, what means would there have been?
A. None at all.

Q. Do they keep—have they ever kept buckets of water?
A. They have buckets.

Q. Are they full?
A. No. In case of a fire, as all the wards are locked up, and the patients locked in by the attendants, they would have to go and unlock the rooms before they could get out. When Mr. Farrell made the discovery of the wrong doing, it was said that it was a reflection on the Commissioners. I took a different view altogether. If he made these discoveries I thanked him for it, and I thought Dr. DeWolf should have taken the same view of it.

Q. When recommendations were made by you were they received favorably?
A. They might be, and it generally ended there. There was the matter I spoke of the other day that required a prompt remedy. Dr. DeWolf took umbrage at it, and thought that I was interfering with his prerogatives. He took offence at it.

Q. He took offence at your ordering the attendant to do it, and thought you should have suggested to him?
A. When I found filth in the lower flats should I call the Doctor to see it? I have ordered the attendants to remove it, and they have done it.

Q. Do the attendants seem to be indifferent to it?
A. No, I have never found anything of that kind about the attendants.


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Q. Have you ever heard of patients being ill-treated?
A. We had one complaint of ill-treatment, and the party who committed it was discharged. I think it was Hook. I cannot recollect any other case. They sometimes get blows from other patients.

Q. Have you ever heard complaints from patients that they were not seen by the medical attendants?
A. There was a patient here named McKenna, whose mother came here and could not see her, whether it was inconvenient or not I do not know.

Q. But have they ever complained of the Superintendent not visiting them?
A. Well you might receive these complaints but they are from insane people.

Q. Whenever they were made did the Commissioners investigate them?
A. We spoke to the Superintendent, and of course he went and saw them. I cannot say that I ever heard complaints.

Q. When persons came to see their friends they take them into the reception room. Are the attendants present during such visits?
A. I suppose, if they wish it, they are allowed to see them alone.

Q. Is there anything that would check or prevent a patient from making any complaint to relatives or friends?
A. Not that I know of. Their letters, I think, have to go through the Superintendent.

Q. Have the patients ever made complaints as to their food?
A. Yes, some of them.

Q. If a patient made a complaint of that sort would not the Commissioners have it investigated?
A. Yes.

Q. Have you done it?
A. Yes.

Q. With what result?
A. Some if them were sustained and some were not.

Q. What was done when they were sustained?
A. They were remedied. The corned beef, for instance, was bad. It was remedied.

Q. By whom?
A. By the Superintendent.

Q. Is the beef corned on the premises?
A. Yes.

Q. Who remedied it?

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A.The storekeeper.

Q. You ordered him to?
A. We had it brought up. It was examined into. The beef was returned and other beef got in its place.

Q. The waste of food has been referred to?
A. There was a good deal of food thrown out of the windows, bread, etc. I saw it there. There is a good deal lost by too much being cut up, as the patients do not care to eat it. I have said, again and again, that a good deal of it might be made into bread puddings, instead of being thrown out. A good deal of this loss occurs, I think, merely from the freaks of the patients. I think an alteration should be made in the management of the store-house. The Bursar should have all supplies come through him. He should receive them and check them by the invoice, and then when application is made for the different quantities in the different wards should distribute it. He should weigh and measure it.

Source: Commission Appointed by His Honor The Lieutenant Governor In Council To Investigate The Management of Mount Hope Asylum for the Insane, "Evidence given by Peter Ross, Esq.," Evidence Taken Before A Commission Appointed by His Honor The Lieutenant Governor In Council To Investigate The Management of Mount Hope Asylum for the Insane (Halifax: , 1878), 1, 7-10.

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