Hangman’s Shack

The Souris Valley Mental Health Hospital was a prominent institution founded in 1921 in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Orginally, patients worked in outdoors on farms on the grounds providing relief for various cognitive problems. Later, and perhaps more well-known, was the infamous work of Dr. Humphrey Osmond and Abram Hoffer. The pair introduced shock therapy, LSD, and lobotomies in the 1950s and 1960s.

Another well known part of the hospital grounds was a small building labeled by locals as “Hangman’s Shack”. This structure was not far from the hospital near the river. It was approximately five feet by seven feet in area and maybe seven feet in height. The centre of the shack featured a bed-like slab of cement. Most likely it was used for solitary confinement. It is believed that patients committed suicide here due to the conveniently located thick beam above the slab, giving the building its grim nickname Hangman’s Shack.

Below are a few pictures I took in the summer of 2008 the year before the hospital was demolished:

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4 thoughts on “Hangman’s Shack

  1. Life in Saskatchewan was so bad many people simply could not handle the situation. Part of the Weyburn Hospital was also used as a home for homeless children. Due to the 1918 flu and economic conditions there were many children needing assistance. It is unfortunate that such a place was even built. The treatments were probably torture and didn’t do anyone any good. Why was it torn down?

    1. The hospital was opened in 1921 and served as a psychiatric centre until the 1970s. It was then used as an extended care facility until 2004 when a new centre was built. The building was too large and old for an business or government to maintain. It was demolished in 2009.

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