The Story of the Modern Instructional Work Being Done for the Feeble-minded in the Orillia Institution



The Story of the Modern Instructional Work Being Done for the Feeble-minded in the Orillia Institution



The Story of the Modern Instructional Work Being Done for the Feeble-minded in the Orillia Institution


The Second of a Series of Three Articles

THERE is a sharp distinction between insanity and feeble-mindedness which, although quite clear to the psychiater, occasionally causes doubt in the mind of the layman. Insanity is disease of a mind that once was normal. Feeble-mindedness is a condition of a mind that never was normal. Insanity is curable. Feeble-mindedness is incurable, and originates before birth. It is a limitation of brain development which will never expand. That is why treatment of the two states differs so widely.

In order to study the treatment, or alleviation, of the condition of the feeble-minded, I visited the Ontario Hospital at Orillia, some weeks after the termination of my work at Mimico. The Orillia Hospital accepts only feeble-minded patients, and has about 1,100 people in its care. It is not necessary to deal with the characteristics and classifications of the different types and grades of imbeciles, idiots and morons who form the hospital population. That belongs to the realm of psychiatry, proper, and the same principle of arrested mental growth is fundamental to all.

It was late evening when I arrived. Over the rolling farm land, the lights of the town of Orillia glowed in the purple dusk. Pine woods fringed the sleeping lake, and the hospital windows beamed a cheery welcome as I climbed the terraces to the Administration building, on the brow of a broad plateau. Dr. W. C. Herriman, the chief Medical Officer, met me in the hall and led me to his office. J. P. Downey, the Superintendent, was temporarily absent.

Dr. Herriman readily granted my request that he explain the work, and we fell into conversation. Before many minutes passed I discovered that my companion was an idealist and altruist of the finest type. In appearance, he was of medium build, with the bowed shoulders of a scholar, a close-cropped beard, and peering, bespectacled eyes—but eyes remarkably piercing, under the intellectual brow. He had a trick of half pursing his mobile lips before speech; then, question or remark shot forth, keen and to the point, with frequent sparkles of wit. Although burning with the desire to accomplish, each observation was deliberately founded upon a base of hard logic, untinged with sentiment—although, as I afterward discovered, the doctor had abundance of sympathy when in contact with His charges. When in full swing of conversation he accompanied his words with vivid gesture.

“You see,” he said, “we work here under this great handicap, that we can only produce improvement in our children up to a certain point. Our boys and girls—they ' are all children, though their chronological age be sixty—haye a definite cerebral restriction, and no amount of tuition or encouragement can carry them beyond it. They are willing enough to try, but it is no more possible than for a baby to carry a man’s weight. Often we hear the remark—‘How wonderfully So-and-so has progressed since going to Orillia!’ That is not quite correct, however. The child has not progressed. It has broadened —that is, it’ has learned an additional number of mechanical motions within its original mental orbit. It is a point rather difficult to explain, but let us put it this way:

'Enlarging Mental Scope

SAY a feeble-minded boy of about seventeen years, whose mental age is five years, has learned to dress himself, carrythings for his mother, perhaps dry the dishes and do a few other odd things like that, which only require slight mental activity. When brought to us he is taught to draw a little, to match colors, to do a limited amount of counting, to make various little kindergarten knick-knacks, and, perhaps, to model simple objects from plasticine. On the surface, he is improving mentally. In reality, he has not budged. He is simply doing what any five year old child of normal intelligence can do. He has, as I have said, enlarged his mechanical possibilities within his limited mental scope. As time goes on he will be taught other things, but he will never learn anything requiring the acumen of a normal six year old. We always try to go over the wall so as to keep them close up to the •limit of their capabilities, however.

“You may ask, then, why it is necessary to bring him here, when the same results might be accomplished at home. For this reason that, although feeble-mindedness knows no class distinction, and we have in the hospital children from the best families in the Province, by far the majority of our youngsters come from undesirable surroundings. As they become older they are easy prey to vice, and the teasing of companions who, with the thoughtlessness of youth, take advantage of the weakling. They are brought here for protection against the world,

and, under constant supervision and a good environment, their possibilities, mental and physical, are exercised unremittingly to prevent deterioration.

“There are a number of friendless little waifs, too, who would, indeed, be in a bad way if left to the cold charity of the atmosphere into which they were born. Here they are assured of loving care and attention. Some of our nurses have been here for many years. They came to the hospital when young, and the work among the children gripped them so strongly that they remained to mother the kiddies who had never known tenderness, renouncing, perhaps, the blessings of individual motherhood, for the sake of the frail minds that groped for affection. Again, too, a great number of our children are rejected as

absolutely hopeless by other institutions before coming to us, and so we must do what we can to make the best of them.” The doctor sighed, but his eyes again lightened with animation.

“It is a great work, however, and very necessary—and although at times we become a bit discouraged at the apparent futility of our efforts, we have the assurance that through them we are able to lighten the burden of the Province, and, what is more important, extract from our children and put to good use qualities which otherwise would be wasted.”

The Doctor’s Power

AS DR. HERRIMAN was speaking, a young man TA entered—a strongly-built chap with glasses, sunbronzed skin and friendly brown eyes, He was introduced as Dr. Watson, assistant medical officer and the enthusiastic manager of'the hospital soccer team. He looked capable, and, as Dr. Herriman afterwards told me, he was a great favorite with the children. There is something about a young doctor which attracts youngsters and Dr. Watson found it easy to influence his charges. He swung back in a swivel chair as the older man talked, and interjected a brief observation now and then.

Dr. Herriman continued. He told of children living in indescribably vile surroundings, victims of every sort of viciousness, who were plucked from those nests of corruption by the friendly hand of the Children’s Aid Society, and turned over to the Orillia institution for

safe-keeping, and of children in good homes, who, unfortunately, were a menace to those about them, because of moral irresponsibility but who, under the beneficent influence of the hospital were taught new and useful habits.

“—and do you know,” he said, “a mother may have a half dozen kiddies, but it is the little defective one who is likely to be closest to her heart. Again and again mothers have told us that happiness was not for them until that little one was whole. How can we tell them there is no hope of cure? After viewing our efforts here, though, they go away more content.” He broke off and looked at his watch. “Byjove! Past midnight! I don’t know what you will think of us here, gabbing all night!” he smiled apologetically. I thought what any man would, after hearing so effective and real an account of pure humanitarianism.

A Superb Scenic Location

IN THE morning, before breakfast, I stood on the steps at the front door. There was a snap of early frost in the air, and crisp flakes of crimson and gold fluttered earthward from the thinning trees. The lake sparkled to the horizon, and over beyond the town the sky was heaped with clouds. To the left, on the brim of a grassy terrace was a balcony of white stone which, under the brilliant sunlight, and against the vivid blue of sky and water and the curving shore, gave a charming suggestion of the Aegean. The hospital buildings were approached from the lake in successive rises of beautiful terraced lawns. The site commanded a superb view of Lake Simcoe, while far over the fragrant farm lands, and beyond Orillia, the scene of Leacock’s “Sunshine Sketches,” the blue hem of Lake Couchiching appeared above the pines.

The arrangement of the hospital buildings differed from that of Mimico, in that, instead of separate cottage groups, they radiated from the main or Administration building, being connected with it by glass-encased corridors, so that to reach any part of the resident institution it was not necessary to go outdoors.

Shortly after breakfast I met J. P. Downey, the superintendent, who gave me a spontaneous and cordial greeting. He is a large, fine-looking man, with a trimmed moustache and evenly-parted hair greying at the temples. At times, deep thought creased his brow in horizontal furrows. His manner with staff and patients alike was one of easy courtesy. Wearing soft leather boots, he made but little noise in walking, and his movements were surprisingly quick for so large a man. It was at once evident that there was mutual liking and co-ordination between the medical and administrative branches of the hospital. He spoke of the work with quiet pride, yet of his personal accomplishments he said nothing. He had no need, for later, as he conducted me through the buildings, the afflicted children whom we passed in the sunny corridors reached out and touched his clothing with soft, shy fingers, trust and affection beaming in their eyes.

The ground floors of the buildings were occupied by school-rooms, occupational class-rooms, kitchens, diningrooms and other domestic departments, while the upper floors held the dormitories and wards. With the children, there was no uniformity of dress, though an effort was made to give individuality so far as possible. Much of the clothing was made by the patients, and each had its distinctive touch of adornment. In each of the wards was a large, comfortably-furnished sitting-room, and, as at Mimico, everything is as home-like as it is possible to make a place containing more than one thousand occupants. The place held much the air of a large and popular boarding school for children, and games and pastimes in abundance were furnished.

I was told that certain of the older girls were given charge of younger kiddies, and soon acquired a pride in seeing that they were well behaved and nicely turned out. The affection felt by these girls for their little charges was remarkable, and the effect of the responsibility upon themselves was correspondingly marked. It is hard for outsiders to realize what care and solicitude mean to lovehungry kiddies, but those in charge are gifted with that deeper understanding which makes so vital a difference in the life and atmosphere of the place.

At the Various Handicrafts

WE HALTED before the door of a large class-room with high, wide windows through which the vivid autumn sunlight streamed upon heads, large and small, bent over their work. Upon the desks were colored

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threads and woollens from which fancy work and knitted goods were being made. The winter supply of clothing was under way, and although the work was made as interesting-as possible it all had a basis •of utility'. Childlike, the pupils prefer working in bright colors which, of course, affords a certain mental stimulation, and Is productive of some charming designs.

In another room, boys were engaged in moulding, with dabs of colored plasticine. At first glance it seemed like play, yet the idea behind was an important one and had been carefully thought out. The boys were not bound to any set design, and the nature of the stuff lent itself to whatever ingenuity the maker possessed. It was mental exercise of a limited sortand'so was of practical value. Some showed a natural aptitude for modeling and within their cerebral orbit had evolved little figures of considerable merit. This work was of particular value to those unfortunate little ones whom no amount of coaching could persuade to do the slightest mechanical operation which in any degree depended upon memory.

Raffia work engaged the attention of one class of girls.

'Another group was engaged in making mats, rag rugs, carpets, curtains, operating weaving frames and doing paper cutouts. A large, cheerful sewing-room of girls and womemturned out quantities of feminine clothing , and knitted stuffs, sufficient not alone for the hospital, but affording a surplus for disposal to other government institutions for payment in kind. During the war the hospital showed a splendid record of work accomplished for the men at the front, and many a Canadian warrior, mud-stained, weary, and soaked to the skin after hours of “standing” in a flooded trench, had occasion to thank the quiet workers in faraway Orillia as he changed his freezing socks and sodden shirt for the dry and comfortable ones that they had made him.

The vocational instructors were young women with wide experience in social service. They combined the enthusiasm of the idealist with the practical knowledge and forbearance of the trained teacher. Although young, they had been in contact _ with more of human misery and sordidness than falls to most women of their age, and the value of their experiences was apparent in the manner in which their classes were conducted. There was none of the usual classroom discipline. Each pupil felt that the teacher had a close and individual interest in every one. Repeated explanations and examples were often necessary to procure the accomplishment of the least complicated tasks, for many of the pupils were incapable of retaining in their minds details which had been painstakingly expounded five minutes before, and work of this description to teachers not adapted to such conditions would have become the most bitter drudgery. But these girls, by their cheery mannér and untiring patience, made light of seemingly futile hours, and so encouraged their charges to perseverance that the response of the children was earnest, if not always productive.

What the Province Profits

WHILE results, individually, in practical economic output were {not large, the work of the children contributed materially to the financial upkeep of the hospital,_ and the effect of concerted effort might be summed up in this way. The work of six mentally defective children is equal roughly to that of one normal adult. The effort of one thousand, therefore, approximates the accomplishment of 166 normal workers. That is what the Province receives in return for its care and supervision of the children. These figures are not scientifically accurate, of course, for it is difficult to set a standard where the mental ages of the children can only be estimated, but they will give an idea of the system upon which the work of the hospital is based. Away from this sphere of co-operation and cul-

tivation, the limited talents of the children would be a total loss to the economic world, and a correspondingly heavy burden upon the state.

One sparkling morning, after a trip with Mr. Downey about the grounds, including a visit to the boathouse with its motor launch and row-boats for lake excursions, Dr. Herriman called me to the office.

“I want to introduce you £o Rabbit,” he said. “Rabbit is a small rip who, before he was six years old, terrorized a Northern Ontario town into signing a petition that he be removed to other and distant climes. I’ll have him brought in, then, while I tell you his history you can judge of his chances in the outside world.”

Rabbit entered with a nurse. He was now more than six years old, undersized, with a small, pink face, quick roving eyes and a certain nervousness of manner. But his eyes were bright and nothing escaped them. He was classed according to the hospital records as a high grade imbecile. While we discussed him, he roamed about the office with a sharp eye for mischief, but I noticed that his response to the quiet check of the nurse was willing and immediate.

Born of illiterate and careless parents, Rabbit, in the hectic days before his commitment to Orillia, lived in a small town, and his doings and escapades furnished startling columns to the local press. He was a dozen Peck’s Bad Boys rolled into one, and his parents soon gave up any attempt to control him. Housewives in the town learned to lock their doors, for it was not uncommon for one, on awakening after a nap on a drowsy summer afternoon, to find that Rabbit was sharing her couch, wrapped deep in slumber. People, leaving home for an hour or two, were wont upon their return to find the engaging Rabbit seated at the dining table regaling his small self with pie, cake or jam which he had abstracted from the larder. One scandalized old lady, confined to her bed, was confronted by the nipper who calmly proceeded to strip the bed of its coverings despite the shrieking protests of the occupant. These youthful pranks caused a certain amount of hilarity, but, when the youngster turned his activities to putting bricks through plate glass windows, beating larger children with sticks, setting fire to unoccupied houses and poking the eyes out of cats, the town protested. Juvenile exuberance they could forgive, but Rabbit, they said, was possessed of a devil and should be put away.

In that, they were both ignorant and unjust. The laddie was simply one of those unfortunates born into the world with an inadequate brain, who needed sympathy and help, and the diversion of his energy into useful channels to make him a limited asset, instead of the unlimited liability he was in a fair way to become. After a’brief sojourn with the Children’s Aid Society, that boon of handicapped childhood, he was sent to Orillia. Under firm and helpful control he showed marked improvement and became interested in his work in the class-room to such an extent that some of his former vicious habits were fairly well subdued. His love of mischief will likely never be bettered, but his possibilities for harm have been greatly curtailed. Even in the simple work of the hospital he can not largely develop, but for him to have continued in his old ways would have meant certain disaster.

The Valwe of Open Spaces

FOLLOWING the principle which

governs the mental hospitals of Ontario, there is no suggestion of restraint in the buildings or grounds of the Orillia institution. There are no fences or walls, except upon the farm where they are necessary in order to keep the livestock within bounds. Everywhere is space, the spring of growing things, fresh, bracing lake air, sunlight, flowers, shrubbery andinviting walks in the velvet

shadows of the trees. At one time the railway company maintained a high board fence along the track at the bottom of the slope toward the lake. Despite repeated protests from the hospital superintendent, the company refused to have it removed, fearing trespass and damage to its property. Then one day a railway detective came to the office in great excitement and stated that an attempt had been made by a patient to wreck a train. Ties had been removed from the stacks placed at intervals beside the rails, and laid over the track. Fortunately, they were seen in time by the engineer and a nasty accident averted. Immediate investigation followed. Three ties were found where they had been removed by the trainmen, and in addition a poorly scrawled note was discovered, held down by a stone between the rails. The signature identified the culprit, one of the older boys, who stated that he had placed the ties, not to wreck the train, but to call the attention of the trainmen to his letter which he wished delivered to his home in the city! The boy was, of course, irresponsible. The superintendent then pointed out to the railway company that had the fence not obstructed the view, the boy would have been seen from the hospital and prevented from carrying out his rash act. The fence was removed.

As a result of the foresight of the superintendent a few years ago, the water supply of the hospital is one of the finest in the Province. About one and one-half miles from the institution there is a group of natural springs which produces an abundance of cold, pure water. The supply was sufficient to provide for the requirements of the town of Orillia, but the springs were so far from that place that the town preferred to use the nearer, although inferior, lake water. Seemingly the fact was overlooked that as the springs were on ground higher than the town it was possible to run the water there by gravity at a comparatively small cost. The hospital saw the value of this point, however, and bought the springs. Hospital labor put in the pipes which carried the supply to a pumping station halfway to the buildings. From that point the water was relayed at tremendous pressure to the hospital, providing not alone for daily needs and a reserve in the huge tank, but also for insurance against fire. It may be said, here, that so efficient is the interior and exterior fire-fighting equipment of the Ontario mental hospitals and so orderly and mechanical the periodic fire drill that the buildings can be evacuated and streams played within three to four minutes of the sounding of an alarm. At Orillia, the fire escapes are enclosed spiral chutes, through which frightened patients may be shot without trouble. In every room and hall are hand|extinguishers, in addition to standard reels of hose which can be coupled in a few seconds to the numerous hyrants within the buildings.

Raising the Economic Value

AS WE were leaving the main building to visit the source of the water supply Mr. Downey called to a boy who was passing. The lad came to the steps and respectfully touched his cap.

“This is Clarence—” said the superintendent, “one of our best workers. Always willing to do his part and a bit more—aren’t you, laddie?” The boy smiled and nodded, then withdrew.

“That boy is now about fifteen years old, and although large and well developed physically, has only the brain of a small child,” Mr. Downey went on “When we had him brought here seven yeas ago he lied, cheated, stole, smoked cigarettes and was steeped in filth. Now, although he will occasionally evade the truth, he is a steady, conscientious worker without any bad habits other than the natural love of occasional devilment common to healthy lads of his age. He has developed a responsive, likable disposition as you can easily see, and economically he is equal to one half the ability of a normal adult workman. As he grows older and stronger he will approximate the value of an average manual laborer and so save to us the cost of a paid employee. He has a passion for farm work, and I have every hope that he will prove a faithful and valuable man. Without help from the Province he would undoubtedly have been in a penitentiary by now, instead of being a credit to himself and a useful member of society. Why do you know—” he ended emphatically, “it is

remarkable "the results we manage to attain at times, and such cases more than compensate, for fruitless effort with the less fortunate. One boy was led in on a chain, howling like a little animal. To see him to-day, clean, quiet and industrious and an asset to the carpenter shop, you would hardly credit it!”

How many people, living in happy, well ordered homes throughout the Dominion realize what a merciless place the world can be to the weakling, and how much of tragedy can be packed into one small atom of the race? A tithe of what misfortune has placed upon the slender shoulders ' of some of Orillia’s children would be a crushing burden to many a man and woman of normal mind. During a visit to the female side of the hospital I was attracted to a sweet-faced girl of fifteen, with shadowed, wistful eyes. She was working in the sewing class, and occasionally she would raise her gaze to her teacher’s, and receiving a glance of encouragement would smile and bow to her task again.

When she sensed that she was being discussed she laid down her sewing and looked toward us with childlike candor, but at the teacher’s quiet, “Go on with your work, dear,” she smiled gently and continued. Her mother had committed suicide while patient at Mimico, and the father, a locomotive engineer, was killed in an accident. Finally plucked from that sombre background, the child lived, working by day in the brilliant healing sunlight of the sewing class, having her recreation in the beautiful surroundings of the hospital and sleeping at night in the clean, white dormitories, protected always with loving solicitude by those who were devoting their lives to the safeguarding of such as she. 11 was a warming thought that this frail, handicapped girl could live a safe and sheltered life in this quiet haven of the state. *

On Saturday afternoon the hospital turned out on the sidelines to watch the soccer game between the institution team and the town of Orillia. There was rivalry of long standing between the teams, for the previous game had been bitterly contested, resulting in no score. The excitement of the occasion extended to the patients, who lined the field and cheered the home talent vociferously. The result was victory for the home team, and the result was duly celebrated. Observation of the hospital spectators in mass showed elearly their mental limitations, in their keen excitement, proneness to applaud and in other small ways. Young and old were like school children on a holiday, and it spoke volumes for the quality of the staff that attendants and nurses entered into the spirit of the game and saw that their charges enjoyed themselves.

The children put on an exhibition drill and concert in the big assembly hall on Monday afternoon, and although it was too early for the regular affairs with which the winter months are filled, and the performers had but one afternoon in which to practise, both dances and drill movements were carried out with a snap and precision that bespoke training and keen interest. Indeed, anything in the nature of a festivity is enjoyed by these children much more than would be possible to those whose minds were developed to a degree which would render them capable^ of receiving more complicated impressions for, by their very simplicity, nothing of the charm escapes. The participants on this particular occasion helped considerably to make the program a success by applauding heartily their own efforts. It was a most creditable exhibition;

Testing the Children

VICHEN children are first admitted, » ' they go through a series of tests to determine their mental status, and upon the results of these tests depends the type of training which they undergo. The Binet-Simon system is used, and one afternoon Doctor Herriman suggested that I witness the procedure. A feature of the work at Orillia which is worth mention in this connection is the kindness with which all of the children are treated. It is necessary, sometimes, to punish those who do wilful wrong, but these penalties are such as may be enforced in any wellordered home, such as doing extra lessons, being sent early to bed, and performing small extra tasks. When it is necessary to examine the children, therefore, there is a total absence of alarm, and a complete trust in the person responsible. Dr.

Herriman held his tests in the main laboratory. The full system is too lengthy to detail, but it is possible from the following to give some idea of the procedure.

A nurse accompanied the first pupil, a boy of about fourteen years, whose rather dull face lighted at times with a fine smile. His nailed boots clicked across the floor, and he stood like a little soldier while the doctor surveyed him with kindly interest. Then he motioned the boy to a seat, and in easy, conversational tones said:

“Well, Harry, how would you like to play store with me?”

Harry nodded, and his eyes traveled to mine, then strayed back to the doctor’s face and rested there.

“Yes? That’s fine!” the doctor continued, and took from a box some small coins. “Now then. You own the store. That is your money. Twenty-five cents in change—and I want you to sell me this box, which costs four cents. See, I will give you a quarter. Now, give me the box and my change.”

The boy hesitated, and looked uncertainly at his customer, the box and the money in turn. Then he shoved over the box and nineteen cents, and smiled brightly.

“Good, Harry!” the doctor said, “not at all bad!”—and jotted a minus sign on a slip of paper. “Now let us try something else, eh? I will say some numbers and have you repeat them after me. One.. seven, .three. .”

“One. .seven, .three. .” the boy broke in.

“No, Harry! Just a minute, my boy, until I finish, then you begin.” This effort was more successful and Harry was credited with a plus. “Now, can you tell me the day, the week, the month and the year? Very good!. . You see,” turning to me, “we give credit if they get within two days of the date. He was within three, but that is not bad for Harry. Now, my son, we are going to look at pictures. We all like to look at pictures, don’t we? Yes! What do you see here?” pointing to the picture of a horse.

“To ride.”

“—and this?” pointing to a knife and fork.

“To eat with.”

“Good! and this?”—a table.

“To sit down with.”

“Notice,” said the doctor to me, “that instead of answering with the name of the object he mentions its use. A normal child would simply state ‘a horse, a knife, a table,’ and so on. You will see thareverse when I show an action picture. Now Harry, what have we here?” pointing out a scene of a customer taking a parcel from her butcher.


“Anything else?”

“A lady.”


“Some meat.”

“Alright. Now let us get back to the money.”

The doctor marked a minus as the result of the picture test an d then held up a two dollar bill.

“How much is that, Harry?”

“Two dollars.”

“—and this?”—a five.

“One dollar.”

“Not at all bad, my lad,” the doctor commented as he noted a minus, then drew an angular and rather complicated character on a sheet of paper. “Now I am going to let you look at this for thirty seconds, then I will cover it. And I want you to draw it from memory.”

The result was surprisingly accurate, denoting good observation and fair memory. After a few more simple tests, the doctor thanked him.

“That will do for this time, my boy. You will come again and play with us some time, eh?” He turned to me. “The value of these tests is that they have been tried out hundreds of thousands of times, and the reactions to them of normal children of varying ages, carefully noted and tabulated,” he explained. “Then,.an equal or greater number of experiments has been made to oBserve their effect upon the feeble-minded. By the tables thus evolved and by a computation of counts won and lost, it is possible to get a surprisingly accurate measurement of their mental age and possibilities. Harry’s mental age is about five years. Of course the tests are not infallible and sometimes the children gain a ‘plus’ by a lucky answer, but they form a useful guide. This

lad’s only positive quality is observation, with limited retention. Judgment is nil.”

The Tragedy of It

OTHER patients were called and tried out, one being an intelligent-faced girl of sixteen, who whipped out her replies almost before the questions were spoken. Not one answer was correct, however, and her apparent brightness was but the pitiful mask of a deplorable intellect. None of the children exceeded six mental years, “—and,” said Dr. Herriman,” the sadness of it lies in that fact that they can never grow.”

Late that night in the stillness of the hospital office, with Dr. Watson’s bronzed face opposite me and Dr. Herriman sunk in his chair, I heard from the veteran psychiater some of his dreams for a more scientific handling of the colossal problem of the feeble-minded. Exterior details faded as the earnest words fell from his lips.

“You have seen,” he said, “what the province is doing for the mentally defective of all grades. You have noticed, in our children here, that deadening limit of usefulness. But they are not all scrap materia], and a large percentage are capable, under supervision, of doing a normal day’s work. One of my ideas is that there may some day be established in our larger cities, groups of our more efficient children who, under a supervisor, would be allowed out to undertake carefully-chosen trades and occupations. They would come back at night, to a comfortable home with their own kind, where they would be safe from the unscrupulous and a credit to our work. Their opportunities for service would be wider than here, and their value to the community would correspondingly increase. Perhaps it is not practical—but I rather think that it is. What do you say, Dr. Watson?”

The latter nodded quick assent. Dr. Herriman went on.

“But after all, and in spite of our hard and sometimes discouraging work here, we are but locking the door after the horse is gone. If only we could get at the root—the inception of the evil and sever it there! Ah, well! There have been many schemes directed to that end, but. . .

I ventured on delicate ground.

“You told me the other night,” I reminded him, “that the laws of heredity were mathematically infallible. Would it not be possible, with the co-operation of the nation, to trace the majority of the histories of the feeble-minded, register the new ones and so get state control of them as they are born? Perhaps, then, a far-seeing Dominion might authorize certain measures in undoubted cases, to prevent propagation. Would that not be a long step toward stamping it out— or do you believe in compulsory sterilization?” The doctor sat for a moment, deep in thought. Then his dark eyes glowed, and his long fingers gripped the table top.

“Sometimes,” he said slowly, “it is necessary and just that we should sacrifice sentiment to the greater humanity.” The third and concluding article in this series will appear in the April 15 issue and will describe a mental hospital which ranks second to none on the continent: Whitby.