Health prof celebrates reissue of pioneering book

Geoffrey Reaume’s groundbreaking book Remembrance of Patients Past will be relaunched April 21 at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West.  

The book was the first to document 19th-century life in the Toronto Insane Asylum (now the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health) from patients’ rather than doctors’ points of view. Reaume, a professor of critical disabilities studies and health ethics in York’s Faculty of Health, wrote it as his PhD thesis. (See YFile, Feb 13, 2007.) 

In 2000, Oxford University Press published 1,600 copies. Five years later, the book went out of print, but due to popular demand, University of Toronto Press has reissued 200.

Reaume says continuing demand comes from those who take his tour of the historical brick wall built by patients and surrounding CAMH. Over the past 10 years, he has given 63 guided tours to hundreds of people, mostly community and school groups but also those taking part in Toronto’s Doors Open and the annual Mad Pride celebration.

He will give the 64th at 6pm on Wednesday to kick off the book relaunch as part of This Is Not A Reading Series. Afterwards, back at the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, he will have an onstage conversation with Ruth Ruth Stackhouse, a psychiatric survivor and director of The Friendly Spike Theatre Band. The evening ends with a silent auction of bricks painted by local artists to help the Psychiatric Survivors Archives of Toronto pay for installing historical plaques at the wall. 

Right: Geoffrey Reaume

In keeping with the theme of the evening, three installation pieces from The Story Behind The Wall, an exhibition by Workman Arts inspired by Reaume’s text, will be displayed on stage. The sculptures were first exhibited at CAMH last year as part of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche.