Rockwood Insane Asylum Upper Canada
Upper Canada's Rockwood Insane Asylum, open from 1859 to 1959, cared for the criminally insane. In fact, the hospital was built by the labor of those convicts by which the hospital was intended. Patients slowly moved in from 1859 through 1870.  The facility is considered a Kirkbride, although it may not represent the original Kirkbride designs in every respect.

Rockwood was Kingston, Ontario's asylum for 100 years, later transitioning into the Providence Continuing Care Centre - a community facility for those coping with mental disabilities. In 2000, the facility buildings were empty after 141 years of service to the surrounding community.

In 2011, Providence Care is beginning a new facility construction next to the original structures at Rockwood. It's hard to say at this time if they intend on preserving the original structures at Rockwood, or eventually demolishing them.

I'm hoping they will not be demolished. In the past 40 to 50 years until more recently, Canada seemed to demolish their historic structures, such as hospitals and prisons, rather promptly in comparison to the USA and certain European countries. However, these days, Canada is moving in a different direction regarding the preservation of historic landmarks.

But much depends on the structural integrity of the buildings, and if a demolition permit will be granted. However, it is also unfortunate Providence Care is going the route of building a new structure rather than revamping the original site as their new facility.

It usually turns out almost every time I've seen this approach taken with other care facilities the new facility is poorly constructed, and the overall cost is a lot more than the total cost of refurbishing the original facility back to its earlier days of splendor. I find this a misfortune.

There are few photos of Rockwood since its 2000 vacancy. The reasons behind this appear to be a very strict security patrol. But I'm not sure how many permissions they give to researchers and media at this time.  Evidently, paranormal investigators also haven't been granted any access or route to investigate as of yet.

So many of these historic monuments are severely restricted these days, especially over the last 5 years; it is rather unfortunate for those of us attempting to actually document something worthy of being documented. In many ways, it is partly due to the explosion of the popular urbex movement around the Internet, and young misplaced arson's reading about locations via the Internet, which were once more privately known about but suddenly everyone and their sister knew about. Locations were flooded, and often vandalized.

The Internet in the end has been the slow death for true explorers, and with the demolition of so many buildings already occurred and with so many more to come - even Beelitz around 2013 - I feel a sense of urgency as an era comes to a close never to be seen again. For those really into infiltration, I suppose it hold its charms.

I'm seeing more and more art exhibits these days reflecting urban explorer artistry. Sadly, I feel Canada overall missed out on this exodus of artistry and history married in spirit. In historical documents, there are various places in Ontario that declare they have no records, including photos, of past architecture, but at the same time Canada's policies, whether local, provincial or federal toward urban explorers has not been a welcoming partnership in the truest sense of historical collaboration.

Beelitz Germany does not restrict visitors to the hospital, where certain buildings are still in use, while others are vacant a good number of years. Some visitors are past patients, or families of past patients, others are photographers and explorers. I totally wish Canada and even parts of the USA had taken this approach, especially in facilities where parts of the facility are currently active.

It seems perfectly logical and even gracious to allow visitors, rather than the attitude of exclusivity and fear predominating the scene these days. After all, it is everyone's history and legacy, so why the stingy high security mentality? Once again, we are crossing the joining rivers, a crisis of delineating what is private property and what is societies common rights to access a heritage that so many would like us all to forget about, like it never existed.

But as much as we need the present and a strong future, we also need a map of our past. We need historians of all shapes and sizes. Not only those schooled with mainstream paradigms, but those of the collective. We need the postmodernists and neomodernists as much as the rest who help us interpret and deconstruct our collective histories of the urban environment, along with our collective interpretations of any societies view on madness at any given time in history. 
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Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.
-Henri Cartier-Bresson-

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