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Santa Claus arrives at the Hospital for Feeble-Minded in 1912!

Historic Christmas card shows joyous children eagerly anticipating gift-laden sleigh pulled by two real deer

Postcard Memories is a weekly series of historic postcard views and photos submitted by Marcel Rousseau. Some were previously published by the Orillia Museum of Art and History and in the book Postcard Memories Orillia. You can take a trip down memory lane with us each Saturday morning!

Dated Nov. 29, 1913, this Christmas card shows a wonderful photo of the arrival of Santa Claus at the Hospital for the Feeble-Minded in 1912. 

The excitement and joyful expression of the children is quite evident with the arrival of Santa on a large sleigh packed with gifts and pulled by two real deer.

The Christmas card contains a message from superintendent J.P. Downey reminding relatives and friends of the children about the approaching Christmas Festival “and with sincere thanks for your generous assistance in past years, ask you to join us in making Christmas at the Hospital for Feeble-Minded in 1913, an unqualified success.” 

For many years, the hospital operated a large farm that housed a variety of livestock including these two reindeer.

The Ontario Asylum for Idiots was established in 1876 in Orillia. In 1910, the name was changed to Ontario Hospital for the Feeble Minded. In 1927, the name changed again to Ontario Hospital School and in 1974, until its closing in 2009, it was named The Huronia Regional Centre.