York prof chronicles the lonely madness of ‘Alice G’

We like to think the days have changed since society stored people with mental illness away in "tombs for the living," as the Toronto Asylum was called in 1890, wrote The Globe and Mail June 20.

"How much [have things] changed? I wonder," speculates Geoffrey Reaume, a history professor in York University’s School of Health Policy & Management, Faculty of Health, whose book, Remembrance of Patients Past, chronicled the lives of residents in the institution between 1870 and 1940. "I still hear people, who are supposedly liberal and accepting, making very discriminatory remarks against someone with a psych history."

It was Reaume who uncovered the story of the patient he called Alice G – driven mad by a broken heart, said her doctors – an unmarried housekeeper from Belleville, Ont., who walked through the doors of the Toronto Asylum for the Insane, as it was called in 1893, and never saw the outside world again. By poring over the files of more than 200 patients in the asylum, he found that the perception of life inside seems to have depended upon whether you were visiting or staying, rich or poor.

Reaume’s research describes how wealthy patients undeniably received the best care, from cushions on their chairs to roast chickens delivered by family. The less fortunate, like Alice G, lived in the dark, spare dorms with barred windows in the back of the wards, or packed into the so-called "cottages" – large brick buildings set off by themselves. "It was supposed to be a retreat from a troubled world," Reaume says. "But instead you went from one troubled world to another."

Schulich pitches Mumbai campus at India Calling tour stop

When it’s India Calling, it seems there’s no shortage of people ready to join the conversation, wrote the Toronto Star June 20, in a story about a travelling troupe of Indian business leaders seeking investment opportunities – dubbed India Calling.

This week, it was Toronto’s turn to host a 150-member delegation at a two-day conference that spotlighted the city’s South Asian population and its affordability as a North American gateway. York University pushed hard with its hopes to establish a campus for its Schulich School of Business school in Mumbai, one of 54 foreign institutions competing for the privilege in a state historically reluctant to admit foreign institutions.

Osgoode alumni appointed to the bench

Welland lawyer Thomas A. Bielby (LLB ’76) has been appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice for the province of Ontario, wrote the Welland Tribune June 20. The appointment was announced by Niagara Falls MP Rob Nicholson, minister of justice and attorney general.

Bielby, a lawyer with Lancaster Brooks & Welch LLP in St Catharines and Welland, replaces Justice T. P. O’Connor (Brampton) who elected to become a supernumerary judge. Bielby received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph in 1973 and a Bachelor of Law from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, in 1976. He was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in 1978.

  • Orillia lawyer Greg Mulligan (LLB ’73), a graduate of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, has been appointed a judge in the Superior Court of Ontario, wrote the Orillia Packet and Times June 20.

"I’m excited," said Mulligan, who learned earlier this week of the appointment. "It’s always a shock and an honour when you get called."

Mulligan, a lawyer with Bourne, Jenkins and Mulligan, replaces Justice J. R. MacKinnon, who has decided to become a supernumerary judge. He was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in 1975 and has been a partner with Bourne, Jenkins and Mulligan since 1982.

Scratching metal’s surface

Global Metal documentary co-director and host Sam Dunn (MA ’01), in his mid-30s, is an anthropology graduate from York University, a bass player with the metal band Burn to Black, and writer, producer and director of the 2005 film documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, wrote the Toronto Star June 20.

He is, as he confesses, "passionate about all things metal." His goal in this latest venture is to chart metal’s progress in some very unlikely places – Brazil, Japan, China, India, Israel and Iran.

Dunn comes across as a nice guy, which turns out to be typical of even the most fervent head bangers, including the Japanese girl who looks ferocious as she faces the camera and shouts, "Heavy metal!" and then a second later breaks into a sweet smile. There’s almost an inverse proportion between the ferocity of the music and the mildness of the fans.

On air

  • Marc Lesage , sociology professor at York’s Glendon College, spoke about the rituals of nightclubbing, on TFO-TV’s “Panaorama” June 19.