May 15 2012
After returning home from a day demolishing a bathroom and rain forecast to start any moment, I made a quick dash up Pine Avenue to the Allan Memorial Institute – the Psychiatry Department of the Royal Victoria Hospital.
The imposing building sits on top of a hill (above the McTavish Reservoir) overlooking downtown Montreal. At the entrance on Pine Avenue is the Ravenscrag Gate Lodge.
I’ve been waiting for an overcast day to go shoot the Institute thinking the clouds in an HDR tone mapped image would add to the spooky feeling the building can evoke. I can’t help but imagine Hannibal Lecter being somewhere down in the basement.
The building was constructed for Sir Hugh Allan and completed in 1863. The home (Ravenscrag) was built on the former grounds of McTavish Manor, which Allan had demolished to build his new home. By the time of his death in 1882, Sir Hugh Allan had built the largest private shipping empire in the world and was the wealthiest person in Canada.
Ravenscrag was inherited by Allan’s eldest son Sir Montagu Allan who in 1942 donated the home to the Royal Victoria Hospital after the death of their last remaining child. The lavish interior was completely gutted by the new owners, only the Victorian ground floor library supposedly remains somewhat intact to how it was originally. Despite the great work that is carried out at the Institute, I can’t help but imagine what a great museum, hotel or tourist attraction this building could have been.
The dark period in the building’s history was during 1957 to 1964, when it was part of the CIA’s Project MKULTRA experiments into mind control using drug-induced techniques. The Institute’s Director Donald Ewen Cameron was recruited by the CIA who conducted experiments using LSD, and various paralytic drugs as well as electroconvulsive therapy at thirty to forty times the normal power. His “driving” experiments consisted of putting subjects into drug-induced coma for weeks at a time while playing tape loops of noise or simple repetitive statements.
No wonder the place looks creepy.
Behind the Allan, you have a nice view of the tower at the Victoria Hospital – an equally imposing building.
I somehow missed the old stable block and so will head back one day – likely not at night 😉 and grab a couple more shots here and at the same time shoot some of the great Royal Victoria Hospital buildings.
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Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.