The Woodlands School, 1950-1980
McConnell, Shannon K
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This thesis examines the history of the custodial training school, Woodlands School. Located in New Westminster, British Columbia, Woodlands operated under various names. The institution originally opened in 1878 as the Provincial Asylum for the Insane, where it housed ‘lunatics’ and confronted mental diseases. In 1950 the facility underwent a transition to a custodial training school that focused on the care of ‘feeble-minded’ children, along with children who exhibited various physical and behavioural issues. That year its name changed to Woodlands School to better align with its new focus on special education and occupational therapy. This thesis uses patient, parent, and staff perspectives to offer unique insights into how Woodlands operated and how it is remembered. Additionally, it relies on a blend of archival materials including newspaper articles, newsletters, sessional reports, tour reports, and three texts concerning Woodlands’ history produced by former staff member, Val Adolph. First, this thesis grounds Woodlands in the context of British Columbia and Canada, then examines the factors and problems associated with transitioning the Asylum for the Insane to Woodlands as a custodial training school. Secondly, I explore Woodlands’ context through a special education lens alongside the experiences of a former resident. Thirdly, I consider how activist mothers influenced the closure of Woodlands School. Overall, the history of Woodlands is complex and multi-faceted, spanning decades and generations of different experiences, yet still has significant commonalities with other custodial training schools in Canada.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeKlassen, Frank; Horwitz, Simonne; Wotherspoon, Terry; Kalinowski, Angela; Androsoff, Ashleigh
Copyright DateMay 2020
Custodial Training School