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Gibson Isolation Hospital

Gibson Hospital
Photo: Greg Pinchin

Tearing down a piece of Deaf heritage for parking spaces.


Belleville, Ontario

Why it matters

This brick structure is one of just two surviving buildings from the original Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, founded in 1870. Now called the Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf, it is one of the oldest schools for deaf students in North America. Like other such schools, it played an integral role in the development of Deaf Culture in Canada. From the time it was erected in 1894 until its closure in 1973, hundreds of students passed through the doors of the Gibson Isolation Hospital at the campus’ centre.

Why it’s endangered

Used for storage for the past 25 years, the school came under threat of demolition in 2010 after Infrastructure Ontario, overlooking its heritage value, presented plans to demolish the former hospital. Though the exterior of the municipally listed building appears to be in good condition, this important piece of Deaf history may be paved over for parking spaces.