Posts Tagged ‘col. hedley basher’

“Bread, Water Is Diet of 310 Guelph Rioters Held In Auditorium,” Toronto Star. July 14, 1948. Page 03.

Special to The Star
Guelph, July 14 – More than one-third of the inmates at the Ontario reformatory are still undergoing dietary punishment today although officials relented somewhat last evening and allowed them to spend the night in the assembly hall, Col. Hedley Basher, superintendent, said today. Monday night the 310 men who refused to work were locked out in an exercise yard without blankets.

‘There was some noise during the night, but things were reasonably quiet,’ Col. Basher said. He could not state when disciplinary measures would be eased. The men are receiving only bread and water.

When spokesmen for the rowdy prisoners sought an audience with reformatory officials late Tuesday they asked to be taken back into the buildings.

Instead of being returned to their dormitories, as some had hoped, the inmates were ordered into the large assembly hall immediately behind the administration offices. Col. Basher spoke to the group and warned them they would be kept on reduced rations, until the last evidence of their hold-out had disappeared.

The superintendent’s statement that all was not perfectly quiet indicated it was likely some hotheads were still trying to buck authority.

‘Youngsters’ Among Leaders
An inmate said the ringleaders were either ‘youngsters’ who acted spontaneously or in a few instances ‘old timers’ who were ‘little more than bums.’

Again today only a few inmates are working. For the most part, they are trustees who are permitted to wander with only loose supervision as they go about the park-like grounds of the institution. Some are clipping hedges. Others are cutting grass and weeding the many flower gardens. Another inmate and an electrician are finishing their task of repairing a lamp standard near the superintendent’s house some 100 yards north of the main buildings.

Those who spent the night in the assembly hall did ‘some singing and shouting,’ it was learned. Again today they were offered only bread for food and water to drink but officials declined to state whether any or all had accepted this diet.

Although the complete day staff of guards was kept on duty throughout Monday night following the disturbance which started at noon that day, a large percentage were permitted to return to their homes last night. All said they were under strict orders not to divulge information concerning condition in the institution.

Won’t Discuss Outbreak
Storekeepers in the area of the reformatory proved equally close-lipped since they did not want to cast suspicion on their customers, among whom are many guards.

Hon. George Dunbar, minister of reform institutions said, ‘Many persons forget that the type of person we get in the institutions does not take kindly to discipline. We intend to maintain that discipline by such as are necessary. We are not going to have the inmates trying to run the institutions.’

About one year ago the inmates at Burwash farm took over the administration of the reformatory and held possession for several days. Last month women inmates at Mercer Reformatory in Toronto staged one of the worst riots in years when they smashed furniture and beat up policemen and guards who tried to control them.’

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“Striking Guelph Inmates Sue for Peace at End of 30-Hour Vigil in Yard,” Globe and Mail, July 14, 1948. Page 01 & 03.

Guelph, July 13 (Special). – After being cooped up in an exercise yard for more than 30 hours on a bread-and-water diet, 311 rebellious inmates at Guelph Reformatory early last night sued for peace and were brought into the assembly hall to spend the night.

The ‘fresh air’ treatment began to have its desired effect during the afternoon when Supt. Hedley Basher was asked to receive spokesmen for the group.

These spokesmen said that practically all of the prisoners involved had changed their minds about not working and promised to behave if the rigid discipline would be relaxed. After considering the matter at length, Supt. Basher ordered the men brought inside and blankets were issued to them.

The punishment diet will be continued for the time being. Its lifting will depend upon the conduct of the group during tonight and the early part of tomorrow.

The men, who comprise slightly more than one-third of the total prison population, refused to go to work after the noon-day meal Monday. While no official protest had been made, some of them shouted: ‘What about the food?’

After the officials talked to the men and insisted they go to work there was a minor demonstration of singing and shouting which was quelled by the use of tear gas. After that there was order and no further demonstration.

Some of the prisoners changed their minds early Monday afternoon, but it was decided to keep them out in the open as a disciplinary measure. They remained there throughout last night without blankets. However, as the weather was warm, none experienced any discomfort other than the fact they had to sleep on concrete.

Pictures taken from the air by a Globe and Mail photographer yesterday showed the men lounging in small groups, while others were standing in the shade of the four three-story walls forming the yard.

Officials were at a loss concerning the remarks about the food. They insisted the food is on par with that served in any other institution on the continent.

At Toronto, Reform Institutions Minister George Dunbar confirmed that the men were kept in the open purely as a disciplinary measure.

‘Many persons forget that the type of person we get in the institutions does not take kindly to discipline,’ he said. ‘We intend to maintain that discipline by such as are necessary. We are not going to have the inmates trying to run the institutions.’

He declared that complaints relating to food were ill-founded. Meat and fresh vegetables prepared by trained cooks are served daily.

He said that about 20 men had caused the trouble by persuading others in the group not to leave for their work in the fields and the workshops.

Image Captions:

Left: Bread and water and lots of fresh air was the treatment accorded 311 prisoners at Guelph Reformatory who refused to work. Here’s an aerial view yesterday afternoon of the rebellious inmates who have been kept in an exercise yard since theyr struck after noon-day meal Monday. Officials decided to keep them there as disciplinary measure. From the air it appeared as if bread had been scattered around in corner of yard.

Right:  One of the more modern reform institutions on the continent, the reformatory at Guelph, where 311 prisoners are on strike, is shown in this overall aerial picture. (1) Administration building. (2) Yard where striking inmates are being detained. (3) Main wing. (4) Recreational field. (5) Power house. (6) Workshops. (7) Abattoir. A few of those who refused to work are said to have complained a bout the food.

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“300 ‘Sit Down’ in Prison Yard,” Toronto Star. July 13, 1948. Page 01.

Work Or Starve Order Given 300 at Guelph – ‘Rebels’ Defy Tear Gas

Special To The Star
Guelph, July 13 – Prison officials said today they were prepared to ‘starve out’ 300 prisoners at Guelph Reformatory who are staging a hunger and sit-down strike in the exercise yard. The prisoners remained throughout the night in the yard with every available guard on duty.

Officials declared the situation is tense, but said they did not think it would break into a riot. Armed guards circle the exercise yard where the men met after the noon-day meal yesterday. Tear gas used to attempt to rout them had little effect and it was decided that it would not be used again, but that the policy of ‘No work, no food’ would be adopted.

A. R. Virgin, director of reform institutions, said in Toronto today that this already has had some effect on a number of the men who had asked to rejoin the majority of the prisoners inside. Almost 500 had no part in the strike, officials stated.

Armed Guards Leave Posts
From outward appearances everything at the reformatory was peaceful and normal. About a dozen men working in two and threes were cutting grass and trimming shrubs along the main driveway.

At the back of the building on a playing field another dozen or so were playing ball. About 50 inmate spectators at the game were sitting in the tiers of seats that line the field.

Only 50 men could be seen working in the fields at 10.30 a.m. today. There were 20 in a hayfield, 20 doing landscape gardening and 10 cultivating fields. An occasional shout could be heard from inside the exercise walls. Guards who earlier had been patrolling the walls with shotguns had left their posts.

The 300 in the yard looked to passing air passengers as if they were being prepared for barbecuing. Sprawling in a courtyard surrounding by three-storey stone walls, the prisoners steaming in their dark clothing as a mid-morning sun began beating down.

Less than one in 50 of the prisoners who were lying in disorganized clumps bothered to look up as planes passed overhead. Over 100 stood or lounged against one end of the shaded south wall as if it were a corner pool hall.

None of the 300 gathered in any sort of group, none were walking or strolling. A few seemed to have taken off their jackets to bathe in the sun beating into the abre dusty stone box of the square court. The hottest looking spot on the landscape was the steaming ‘pit’ where the 300 prisoners were put to ‘cool off.’

Slept on Ground
Col. Hedley Basher, once a Toronto policeman and former governor of the Toronto Jail and jail farm, is superintendent at Guelph reformatory. He would not make any statement on the strike, referring inquiries to the reforms branch at Toronto.

The prisoners in the exercise yard, which is surrounded by the cell block, slept on the ground, officials here said. Conditions for outdoor sleeping were described as ideal. There was plenty of space, officials said, because the yard will accommodate between 700 and 800.

Guards were kept on duty throughout the night. A bus load of close to 30 go home to Guelph every night, but their trip back was cancelled last night.

Complain of Food, Heat
There was considerable shouting when the strike first started after the noon meal. Leaders urged prisoners to refuse to go to the fields and they were able to get more than 300 volunteers.

The inmates were said to have been pained about the food and balked at having to go to the fields in the hot weather. They have to walk through the exercise yard after the meal to go to work.

Mr. Virgin said a few leaders incited the men to remain in the yard. Tear gas was used. While it caused the men discomfort, use of it in the open was not effective in getting them to leave.

Officials then took an adamant stand that the men would have to work to get their food. Those who asked to give in were refused permission to leave the exercise yard.

‘They must be taught obedience and they are going to take their punishment,’ Mr. Virgin declared.

Claims Food Good
Mr. Virgin laid blame for the trouble on ‘newspapers and radio stations’ which published and broadcast new of disturbances at Burwash and Mercer reformatory. ‘They have radios in their cell blocks,’ said Mr. Virgin. He added newspapers were not a general issue but prisoners have access to them at times.

‘As for complaints about food, the food served is exceptionally good,’ Mr. Virgin declared. ‘For breakfast this morning the men had pancakes, cooked cereal, bread and jam and tea. For lunch they would receive shepherd’s pie, potatoes, and gravy, soup, boiled cabbage, butterscotch pudding, tea and bread.

‘The diet is exceptionally good. I have always observed how well the food is prepared on every occasion I have been there,’ he added.

Mr. Virgin said there would be a thorough inquiry. As yet no one had been sent to investigate.

‘These men have rebelled for no apparent reason and they will take their punishment before they will be allowed to go back to work,’ he said.

The firm attitude taken by officials of the department of reform institutions is reported to be in contrast to the stand taken at Burwash after last October’s riot. In that disturbance, the prisoners took over and were in control for days. Then they were given an opportunity of telling their grievances to Prof. Jaffary of the University of Toronto. No disciplinary action was taken.

Image Caption: From the air, Guelph ‘rebels’ can be seen lounging on blankets, left, and standing in shade of prison wall, right

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“Establishing a clinic to treat
incarcerated sex offenders was one thing. Finding the staff to run it was
another. The Department of Reform Institutions [DRI] had tremendous difficulty
hiring and keeping qualified staff to run a sex criminal treatment programs, in
part because there were almost no Canadian psychiatrists or psychologists with
experience working in the area of sexual deviation, and precious few who could
be enticed into the field. Moreover economic planning for postwar
reconstruction meant that there were plenty of decent jobs to go around. With
the growing popularity of industrial psychology, and the high demand for social
work services in the expanding welfare state, a DRI offer of low-paying
employment in a hostile or occasionally violent work environment in isolated
parts of the province was not much of a draw. Even those with a particular
interest in working with the criminal population were more likely to take up a
position with the Ontario Parole Board, which, under the auspices of the
attorney general, paid its social work and psychological staff significantly
better wages.

Psychiatrists and psychologists who
did accept work in Ontario prisons quickly learned that most of the DRI’s upper
administration was overwhelmingly hostile toward the provision of mental health
treatment services for prisoners. Major John Foote, the minister of the
Department of Reforms from 1950 to 1957, was a staunch advocate of the Ontario
Plan, but his staff was not. His own deputy minister, Colonel G. Hedley Basher
remained steadfast in his refusal to assist psychologists in any way; and
regularly undermined their efforts to address some of the institutional
problems plaguing inmates. Basher was the superintendent of the Guelph
Reformatory when the Ontario Plan was introduced, and he was reprimanded for
ignoring psychological reports regarding appropriate work assignments for
inmates. He was later promoted to deputy minister, but not because he had a
change of heart. According to Donald MacDonald, the outspoken leader of the
provincial Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation, Basher had a
nineteenth-century military management style. The DRI is ‘Basher’s empire,’ he
argued, ‘and the motto of that empire is ‘Bash ‘em.’ Director of Psychiatry and
Neurology Dr. Frank van Nostrand, whose service as a military doctor during the
Second World War clearly influenced his hard-nosed management style,
consistently supported Basher’s approach.

Hostility was compounded by
parsimony. Canada’s federal and provincial governments had long been
tight-fisted in the administration of prisons, even in times of economic
prosperity. Newly recruited psychiatrists quickly realized that individual
therapy, the most time-consuming and consequently the most expensive form of
treatment, was virtually impossible to provide in an ongoing fashion. In
post-Second World War Canada, United States, and Britain, group therapy emerged
as an economical alternative. Not only could treatment be provided to an entire
group in just a single hour, group therapy sessions could be lead by
lesser-paid staff, such as psychologists, social workers, and even trained
custodial officers.

Group therapy also contributed to
building therapeutic communities, the other landmark development in
institutional treatment in this period. While practising in British military
hospitals during the Second World War, Maxwell Jones re-imagined the hospital
as an organic society where everyone played a role in patients’ emotional and
social rehabilitation. His model was based on creating planned, structured
activities in which every human interaction, including those between patients, had
an intrinsic value. This way, patients actively participated in their own
‘adjustment,’ and the therapeutic role that non-medical staff was recognized
and validated. Medical experts who advocated prison reform touted the
therapeutic community as that next, obvious step forward in the way modern
society could address criminal behaviour. Indeed, some of the most enthusiastic
reformers predicted that by the end of the 1960s, the entire prison system
would disappear and be replaced with therapeutic communities. Obviously, this
never came to pass, but later we will see how Jones’s ideas were applied in sex
deviant treatment programs…at the Guelph Reformatory in Ontario.

The public demand for sex offender
treatment in Ontario began in 1947 with the widely reported sexual assault and
murder of Arlene Anderson, a young disabled Toronto girl. In response to the
public outcry, the Department of Health appointed seven psychiatrists to a
Committee on Sex Delinquency with a mandate to explore the possibility of creating
a treatment program. Contrary to the commonly held view that psychiatrists were
eager to expand their realm of authority and expertise, committee members were
skeptical about the initiative. Most felt there were not enough sex offenders
in the prison system to warrant such a program. They also pointed out that
there was little authoritative data on the issue of treating sexual deviation
or even of the benefit if singling out sex criminals as a distinct group.
Finally, they concluded that there were no proven methods of treatment. In the
end, they would only recommend more research.

Once the question fell into the
hands of the Department of Reform Institutions, the sex deviant treatment
program was seen from an entirely different perspective. In the spring of 1952,
renewed public pressure to provide treatment for incarcerated sexual deviants
prompted the minister to assign his department’s chief psychologist to
investigate the matter. In his report, F. H. Potts supported the ideas on the
grounds that a separate clinic for sex deviates would allow Guelph Reformatory,
the province’s largest adult prison, to get rid of its homosexual inmates.
Segregating homosexual inmates from the rest of the prison population clearly
did nothing to satisfy the public demand for treatment of incarceration child
molesters. Yet none of the administrative records acknowledge the internal uses
of such a clinic differed from public desire, suggesting either that Potts and
his colleagues considered homosexuals, as ‘sex deviants,’ appropriate targets
for transfer to a clinic, or that they were so well isolated from public
scrutiny that consideration of public desire was rarely, if ever, put before
the drive to maintain traditional forms of regulation.

Disagreement occurred around defining
who the problem homosexuals were. For van Nostrand and many other prison
administrators who came of age in the pre-Second World War era, effeminate
homosexuals were a major disciplinary problem since, in addition to defying
gender norms, they persistently provoked and aroused other men’s sexual
passions. Pott’s thinking was more in line with post-Second World War experts
who viewed tough, masculine prisoners who sought out weaker men as sexual
partners as the source of the problem. As he explained in his final
recommendation, creating a separate clinic where ‘homosexuals’ could be
incarcerated would eliminate the ‘grave danger’ posed by inmates who ‘engage in
aberrant sexual activity.’ ‘Morale generally is likely to be improved if this
group is segregated because it is not unusual to find that several, for example
homosexuals, many combine forces in any Institution and through intimidation
and force make normal boys indulge in abnormal sex practices with them.’ Unlike
van Nostrand, Potts was less concerned with the ‘queens’ and ‘fairies’ who were
already kept in a segregated unit than he was with ‘wolves’ who used real
violence, or the mere threat of violence, to coerce other inmates into having
sex. Wolves did not consider themselves, nor were they considered by others, to
be ‘homosexual.’ However, in the postwar era, when definitions of sexual
identity shifted from gender to the biological sex of one’s sexual partners,
wolves were increasingly characterized as homosexual. More important, they were
also more likely to be considered the root of the ‘prison sex problem.’ Indeed,
Potts’s proposal was likely influenced by a psychological report issued only a
few months earlier that identified sexual violence as one of inmates’ main
grievances. Potts believed that by segregating ‘wolves,’ the department would
protect younger inmates from becoming homosexual prey, while at the same time
creating an opportunity to conduct research into the treatment of

Perhaps it was confusion and
disagreement over who was homosexual and which homosexuals were a disciplinary
problem that explains the failure to take any action on Potts’s proposal.
However, just two years later, the provincial Select Committee on Problems of
Delinquent Individuals and Custodial Questions spent an entire day discussing
sex criminals and deviant sexual behaviour within the prison system. When
committee members asked DRI Minister Foote about the current procedure for
placing men charged with sex crimes, he defended his department’s failure to
develop a policy on the grounds that there were no medical treatments known to
help sex deviants. A strong supporter of prison reform, he nevertheless saw no
use ‘in just herding them into one place.’ Aldwyn B. Stokes, a professor of
psychiatry at the University of Toronto and head psychiatrist at the Toronto
Psychiatric Hospital inpatient Forensic Unit, countered that the only way for
experts to discover effective treatments was to create research opportunities,
which would be provided by clinical programs. ‘If we could get an understanding
of how far our present treatment measures an assist,’ Stokes explained, ‘we
would be making some advance.’ The committee was convinced, and in its final
report recommended that a detailed study of sex offenders be made to help guide
magistrates in sentencing; that sex offenders be given indefinite sentences
that were not to be determined until ‘curative measures have taken effect’;
that a separate close-security unit, adequately staffed with trained personnel,
be established for their treatment; and that an extensive study should be
undertaken to develop an understanding of the nature of sex deviation and the
methods of dealing with it. Since men who committed sex crimes and men who had
sex with other men inside prison were both considered ‘sex deviants,’ little or
no distinction was made between what the contemporary reader clearly recognizes
as two separate matters.

Two significant initiatives were
undertaken toward meeting the committee’s recommendations. Plans for two new
DRI facilities already under construction – the first a hospital ward for
prisoners diagnosed with tuberculosis, and the second a maximum-security prison
in the town of Millbrook – were modified to create a separate space for housing
and treating sex deviants. The TB unit was changed to a Neuro-Psychiatric
Clinic (NPC), where sexually deviated prisoners were given priority. Plans for
Millbrook, a new facility intended to siphon off the most violent and
non-compliant prisoners from the Guelph Reformatory, were modified to
accommodate a special sex deviant wing for prisoners whose sexual aggression
toward other inmates made them a disciplinary problem or threat in a regular

At the official opening ceremony in
1955, the DRI proudly boasted that the NPC was to be more than just a treatment
facility. It was also designated as a research centre, the first of its kind in
Canada. Here, all first-time offenders convicted of carnal knowledge, incest,
rape, assault with intent to commit rape, indecent assault, indecent exposure,
seduction, and buggery were to receive a complete psychological and psychiatric
examination as a well as treatment. Interestingly, gross indecency, the charge
most commonly laid against men caught having sex with men, was not included on
this list, reflecting the priorities established by the public, not those of
the prison administration. However, case files reveal that homosexual men were
patients in the NPC.

Like many postwar sexologists, the
one hired to run the NPC embraced psychotherapy. What inmate patients needed,
claimed Dr. Buckner, was ‘insight into the fact that they were individually
responsible for their actions, to given them confidence in themselves, and to
help them [learn] to cooperate with their fellow beings.’ Buckner was an
advocate of the therapeutic community; he rejected the hierarchical
doctor-patient model and favoured active patient participation in an organized
collective of enlightened participants. He aspired to socialize patients out of
the prisoner culture of hostility, suspicion, and resistance and into a
clinical culture of healing by pairing new patients with established ones who
supported and accepted the treatment program. He showed inmates the federal
Department of Health and Welfare’s series of Mental Mechanisms films to help
explain the concept of unconscious motivation and the fundamental drives of
human behaviour. Inmates were expected to participate in the day-to-day
operation of the clinic, from running the library to producing an in-house
newsletter and participating in and even leading group therapy sessions.

Buckner was soon frustrated with
the lack of progress among his patients and he was not alone….treatment in a
medical facility, even when conducted on an out-patient basis with voluntary
patients, was unsuccessful. Prison psychiatrists and psychologists across
Canada and the United States felt they suffered additional obstacles. They
complained that prisoners were hostile to psychotherapy, that they refused to
take responsibility for their actions, and that they suspected treatment would
be treatment would be used against them. Even in the NPC’s hospital-like
setting, Buckner struggled against patient resistance.

To overcome this, selected inmates were treated twice weekly with CO2. Carbon
dioxide therapy was popularized in the 1950s and used to treat a variety of
disorders, including anxiety states, phobias, obsessive-compulsive neurosis,
and depression, all of which were seen as being at the root of homosexuality.
With a ‘controlled’ application of carbon dioxide, subjects were immediately
robbed of oxygen, inciting a panic state. Once oxygen was returned to the
lungs, patients frequently experienced a violent outburst. The theory was that
these outbursts of aggression broke though protective mechanisms and rendered a
patient more open to exploring repressed emotions through the preferred method
of treatment, psychotherapy.

Author and ex-inmate Roger Caron
was one of the ‘hostile’ inmates Buckner treated this way. Caron ‘volunteered’
as an alternative to receiving the strap for an earlier infraction. As
described in his prison memoir, Go-Boy!, he was escorted into a small
room where, without warning or explanation, he was placed in a full-length
canvas sack ‘with a heavy-duty zippier running from head to foot.’ The sack was
strapped to the table. A mask was clamped over his mouth and nose. Caron was
instantly unable to breathe; he panicked, ‘thinking that the doctor goofed.’ He
described a ‘buzzing sound as if my brain were being invaded by wasp’; he ‘felt
a surge of super human strength,’ the faces in the room appeared ‘hairy,’ and
the room started to spin. ‘I was being engulfed by a wave as thick and dark as
molasses, a wave that was carrying me off into a shadowy world full of lurking
horrors, a universe of flashing lights and buzzing sounds that were getting
louder and louder until I was being consumed.’ Once the mask was removed, Caron
‘felt an intense anger and began thrashing about.’ He endured seven treatments
in three weeks and finally quit. It is not known whether Buckner used CO2 with
his sexually deviated patients, but it was considered an appropriate and
effective treatment in such cases.

The DRI appeared unconcerned with
the goings-on at the NPC until Buckner violated government protocol by inviting
a CBC radio journalist to witness a CO2 treatment without first gaining the
department’s permission Bucker defended himself on the grounds that just a
short time earlier the minister insisted that any journalist was free to visit
and report on any prison at any time. Van Nostrand retorted that Buckner’s
actions violated a number of regulations, including the obligation to protect
inmates’ identities. Shortly thereafter, the administration received a letter
from an ex-prisoner who claimed that he was forced to participate in group
therapy with other sex offenders. The group was led by two prisoners who
demanded that he reveal details about his sexual relationship with his wife,
something that he refused to do. Permitting inmates to run group therapy was in
keeping with the therapeutic community ideal. However, staff members confirmed
that Buckner had allowed two inmates to exert authority over other patients.
Department officials rarely paid attention to prisoners’ complaints, but when
inmates provide van Nostrand with the ammunition he needed to shut down the NPC
he proved an enthusiastic listener. Van Nostrand declared group therapy to be
problematic in a prison setting, particularly for those convicted of sex
offences. An inmate might reveal other crimes for which he had not been
charged, he explained, and emotionally vulnerable participants might reveal
details or information that could be used for personal gain by less ethical
participants. Though van Nostrand was never a champion of therapeutic treatment
for prisoners, it is true that confidentiality was a significant problem for
inmates involved in group therapy and led some to refuse to participate.

It was also of some concern that
the two inmates accused of dominating the NPC program were homosexual. Taking
his cues from Maxwell Jones, Buckner adopted a liberal attitude toward
homosexuality, but prison administrations were of a different mind on the
matter. Department of Reform Institution superintendents ran prisons like boot
camp, relying on a military-style regimen to maintain control oveer inmates and
public confidence in the prison system. The slightest appearance of
institutional laxity was instant fodder for political point-making in the House
of Commons. Although the DRI’s most persistent public critics – the CCF and
Stuart Jaffray of the University of Toronto School of Social Work – usually
attacked the department for not taking the treatment ideal far enough, it it
unlikely that even they would countenance giving homosexuals ‘free reign.’

Buckner’s group therapy sessions also violated one of the longest standing
practices in Canadian and American prisons: keeping younger inmates away from
the corrupting influence of adult prisoners, especially if the older prisoner
was known to engage in homosexual practices. Participants reportedly included
some ‘seasoned sex offenders, past middle-age, and some young first offenders,’
leading van Nostrand to conclude that ‘these sessions should have never been
tolerated.!’ Even more worrisome was the dormitory-style housing all NPC
patients shared. In a memo to the deputy minister, van Nostrand complained that
the Ontario Training School boys who shared some of the adult prison facilities
were ‘forced or permitted to associate with hardened incorrigible sexual
deviates whose conversation appears to centre around abnormal sexual

Despite van Nostrand’s complaints,
Buckner refused to change the way he the NPC and continued to openly violate
orders from the Guelph superintendent and even from van Nostrand, claiming a
proprietary right to run the clinic as he saw fit. In 1957 the DRI began
accepting inmates at its new, maximum-security prison in Millbrook, Ontario,
where the segregated treatment facility that experts had long recommended was
in place. Most sex deviants were to be transferred to Millbrook, and Buckner
was offered the opportunity to go with them. However, given that Buckner was
frequently criticized for devoting too much time to his private practice in town
at the expense of the NPC, van Nostrand correctly anticipated that Buckner
would turn down the offer and resign.

With the transfer of sex deviants
and the forced resignation of Buckner, van Nostrand saw an opportunity to scale
back the NPC program. The DRI’s head psychologist and the remaining NPC staff
argued that mandatory assessments for all inmates convicted of a sex offence
used up precious few resources and robbed seriously mentally disturbed patients
of much-needed care.  Although the NPC
continued to assess and recommend treatment for a handful of men serving time
on sex-related charges, Potts dramatically reduced the original 1955 list of
offences meriting a full assessment by eliminating those charged with rape,
which he viewed as a violent crime, not a crime of sexual deviation; carnal
knowledge, a charge that was erroneously believed to be used in cases of
non-coercive sexual activity, most often between a male sixteen years of age or
slightly older and an adolescent female fifteen years of younger; and
seduction, perceived as a crime of sexual betrayal, not assault. Significantly,
the new list identified the sexual act rather than the criminal charge and
expanded to include inmates who were discovered to have engaged in any of the
listed sex acts, regardless of the charge that brought them to prison. Those
acts included having sexual relations with a person of the same sex, a person
of the opposite se who had not obtained puberty, an animal, one’s own children,
or having engaged in exhibitionism. Such men were to be examined by a staff
psychologist. Notably, men who engaged in sex with other men were first on the

The DRI’s new policy was created in consultation with the Toronto Psychiatric
Hospital’s Forensic Clinic and clearly reflects the clinic’s own working
definition of what constituted sexual deviancy. Defined as ‘an act performed
for sexual gratification other than sexual intercourse with an adult of the
opposite sex,’ sexually deviant acts were further divided into two groups: the
first included those who made a normal object choice but engaged in sexual acts
that were abnormal. These included sadism, masochism, exhibitionism, and
voyeurism. The second group included those who made ‘abnormal object choices’;
examples included homosexuality, paedophilia, transvestism, fetishism, and
bestiality. Rape and other forms of sexual assault where adult (or adult-like)
women were victims were not considered deviant unless the accompanying violence
was deemed ‘sadistic.’ There was no clear demarcation showing where this
threshold might be, but presumably physical violence that was superfluous to
the act of forcible vaginal penetration qualified as such.

Using this model, the DRI removed
men convicted of heterosexual crimes involving victims over the age of fourteen
from its list of treatment candidates, thus emphasizing how ‘normal’
heterosexual assaults were seen as crimes of male aggression, not of sexual
violence. As a result the rise of forensic sexology contributed to the
decreased visibility of rape and other forms of assault against women as a
social-sexual problem. Changes to the sex-deviant policy, particularly with
respect to same-sex sex, also brought the program more squarely in line with
the department’s disciplinary objectives.

The narrowing of the treatment
mandate was of no concern to Dr. G. S. Burton, Buckner’s replacement. Likely
hand-picked by van Nostrand. Burton did not favour of any sort of treatment at
all. ‘Too much therapy would not be wise for the kind of inmate we are largely
dealing with,’ he argued. Inmates would simply learn the language and methods
of modern psychotherapy and ‘bandy these about, but would not really be changed
in their personality.’ By 1960, staff agreed that the clinic did little more
than provide a diagnosis, and no further attempts were made to build up a
treatment program.

– Elise Chenier. Strangers in our Midst: Sexual Deviancy in Postwar Ontario. Toronto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008. pp. 141-149

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“Inmates Disliked Diet, Minister Tells House,” The Globe
& Mail
. October 30, 1947. Page 05.

“One way to beat the rising costs of living is to get a job as guard at Burwash
Industrial Farm near Sudbury. There you can buy bread for four cents a loaf,
milk at five cents a quart, potatoes at three cents a pound, and other
vegetables for a cent a pound.

Reform Institutions Minister Dunbar gave these figures when
making a statement in the legislature about the recent disturbances at Burwash,
which were followed by a series of escapes. Ross McEwing (Lib., Wellington
North) asked for a statement because, as he said, people are alarmed at these
prisoners running at large.

Mr. Dunbar said he welcomed the question because there was
nothing to hide, and if there was any criticism for treating the prisoners like
human beings he was ready to accept the responsibility.

While there had been a little trouble at Burwash, he pointed
out that the prisoners made only three specific complaints. They didn’t like
the steady diet of mashed potatoes, but wanted them boiled or fried for a
change. They also complained about the medical service, and this was being
reviewed by an official of the Health Department. The third complaint was that
there wasn’t sufficient P.T. exercises as compared with the program at Guelph.

In analyzing the trouble at Burwash, Mr. Dunbar said it
should be kept in mind that there are 723 men there, scattered over 5,000
acres, in care of 170 guards. Many of the men worked without supervision, and
he said he was surprised there weren’t more escapes.

At the time of the uprising there were a number of the
guards at Guelph taking training and these have returned. Other changes are
being made to strengthen the custody staff and with the advent of colder
weather, which serves to discourage prisoners taking to the bush, Mr. Dunbar
said he didn’t anticipate any further trouble.

In new institutions to be built, single rooms will replace
dormitories and this segregation will prevent the ‘bad men’ among the prisoners
from plotting wholesale disturbances, he remarked.

While there was dissatisfaction expressed by some of the
guards, Mr. Dunbar said they were treated fairly. In addition to obtaining staple
foods at rock-bottom prices, they are able to rent rooms and houses at prices
way below those prevailing at Guelph. Board and room is given to a single guard
for $19 a month; laundry for one dollar per month and medical and hospitalization
services for 25 cents a month.

A married man can rent a six-room bungalow from $15 to $18 a
month and the average rent is only $12.50. They also obtain the cheap medical
and hospitalization services available to single guards and if necessary a sick
guard is brought to Toronto if his case requires special treatment, without
extra charge.

‘If the guards don’t like their work, there is nothing to
stop them from quitting. It is a free country,’ remarked Mr. Dunbar.

He closed his remarks by issuing an open invitation to the
members of the House to visit any institution at any time to see conditions for

Later Mr. Dunbar issued to the press the following figures
on escapes from Burwash for the following fiscal years (April 1-March 31):                                   

Custody      Escapes           Recaptured

1942….            1,793               36                    36
1943….            1,577               15                    15

1944….            1,612               26                    25

1945….            1,744               26                    26        

1946….            1,176               24                    22

1947….            1,849               39                    38

From March 31 last up to the present there have been 32
escapes, 23 of the prisoners having been recaptured.

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“Two Escape Burwash, Ten-Day Total Nine,” Toronto Star.
October 20, 1947. Page 02.

Special to The Star
Sudbury, Oct. 20 – Two more prisoners escaped from Burwash prison farm
during the week-end to bring to six the number of escapees in four days. Two
who escaped last week are still at large, while two others were rounded up
three hours later.

The two who escaped Sunday are Henry Leo Mitchell, 36, sentenced at Pembroke,
and Victor James Krassilowsky, 25, sentenced at Port Arthur. Both were

Officials said the prisoners are teamsters and went to the barn to get their
horses. They ‘kept going,’ an official said, and when their absence was noted
an alarm was sounded. Nine inmates have escaped from Burwash in 10 days. Six
are still at large. Supt. Ralph Ayres reported today.

The system of allowing prisoners to go about the farm without guard is said to
be part of the reformative system. Because of the large area and the number of
inmates, some have to be placed in the ‘trusty’ category, an official said.

Two prisoners who escaped earlier last week are reported to have been sighted
in the vicinity of the prison and guards and provincial police are continuing
the search.

Prof. Stuart K. Jaffary of the University of Toronto has
returned to the prison and is going ahead with his investigation. Scores of
prisoners have been interviewed by the professor of social science. It is
expected it will be some weeks before the inquiry is completed. Prof. Jaffary
will then make his report to Hon. George Dunbar, minister of reform

The escaped prisoners were serving terms for breaking and entering and robbery.
Mitchell’s home is in Hull. Krassilowsky, from Geraldton, was sentenced in Port
Arthur to 12 months’ definite and six months’ indeterminate, on a charge of

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Burwash For Spree, Hint Food Cache in Bush,” Toronto
October 9, 1947. Page 02.

The Star
Ont., Oct. 9 – No trace has been found of the two prisoners who
escape before the eyes of guards and police at Burwash yesterday,
Superintendent Ralph Ayres said today. Armed guards are still
patrolling the bush in an attempt to cut off their escape toward the
C.N.R. tracks, but haven’t found any clues as to their whereabouts.

The number of recent escapes suggests to guards, they said, that
there is a secret cache of food in the bush, and perhaps living
quarters which has been built by the prisoners who have escaped.

It was learned that those who are listed as recaptured for the most
part returned to Burwash themselves and that there is usually very
little searching done when prisoners escape.

Many of the escapes, guards said, are likely prisoners going on a
drinking spree. Liqour has been known to have been made right on the
grounds, officials admitted, and the prisoners after sobering ip
return to the camp.

Escapes from Burwash are regarded as ‘a joke’ by those who live
within a 30 mile radius of the camp.

just go away for a while when they get tired of working and when they
get rested up they come back,’ said a farmer who wasn’t surprised
yesterday when he heard that Theodore Dockstader, 25, and Robert
Duffy, 22, had escaped. It was just two of the more than 40 who have
escaped in four months. In addition it was learned, there were
numerous other prisoners missing a day or so, that weren’t called

just call them ‘Go boys’ because when they want to go they just
run away,’ said a guard. ‘They usually come back in a few days or

The men who escaped yesterday are reported to have been successful
because guards are under orders not to shoot. Most of them are
without firearms on orders of Col. Hedley Basher, special adviser to
Prof. Stuart K. Jaffary, who is investigating reasons for last
Wednesday’s riot when prisoners took over control of the prison for
three days. 

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