Ponoka-born author writes history of old mental hospital

“Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care” covers 1911 to 1971

Jack Martin. (friesenpress.com)

Jack Martin. (friesenpress.com)

A retired professor of psychology from Ponoka has penned a book about the history of the Alberta Hospital Ponoka (AHP) entitled, “Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care.”

The book, which is part memoir, part history and part commentary on the various treatments for mental illness, was published by Friesen Press, a small press in Victoria B.C., in November, 2020.

It covers the history of the AHP from 1911 when it opened up until 1971.

The author, Jack Martin, grew up in Ponoka. He lived here until he was 17 and still has family in the area.

“I previously had published a number of academic books, but now that I was retired, I wanted to write something for a wider audience,” said Martin in an email interview.

“Of course, it always is a good idea to write about what you know about.”

Martin taught the history of psychology for 45 years, most of which was at Simon Fraser University (SFU). He retired in 2018.

Early in his career, he worked in applied areas of psychology, including educational psychology and psychotherapy, later turning to the theory and history of psychology.

In his younger years, he worked at the AHP as an institutional attendant during the summers while completing a BA in psychology at the University of Alberta.

His father had also worked at the hospital for many years — on the hospital farm before WWII and in the bakery after returning home. Martin’s grandmother had also been a patient at the hospital.

“It was a ‘no-brainer’ to try to write a popular history of the hospital,” he said.

With his various personal connections to the AHP, an editor encouraged him to write the book partially as a memoir.

In writing the book, he drew upon his own lecture notes accumulated over many years of teaching and conducted extensive archival research about the AHP at the Fort Ostell Museum, the Archives of the Province of Alberta in Edmonton, and interviewed several former patients, staff, administrators and others associated with the hospital.

A major source of information were the annual reports of the Medical Superintendents (Head Psychiatrists) of the AHP from 1911 to 1972, he says.

The book only briefly mentions the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury, as it now stands in the same location as the old AHP.

“One thing I can say with confidence is that Ponoka is well known as a centre for mental health services and treatment,” said Martin.

“Many of the most admired mental health advocates, nurses, and psychiatrists in Canada, some famous world-wide, were associated with the Alberta Hospital Ponoka throughout its history.”

When Martin retired from SFU he moved with his wife Wyn from Port Moody to Tsawwassen, B.C., where she gardens and quilts and he writes.

Hometown Asylum” is available on friesenpress.com, Amazon, Google and Apple Books.

Ponoka

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A judge has found an Edmonton woman guilty of manslaughter in the death of her five-year-old daughter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of 5-year-old girl

The woman was charged and pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and assault with weapons, including a belt and a spatula

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Alberta identifies 2,042 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Jason Kenney urges federal government to push U.S. for surplus COVID-19 vaccines

‘It makes no sense for our neighbours and regional states to be sitting on doses that we cannot use,’ the premier said

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

Manluk Centre: Wetaskiwin Regional Aquatics and Fitness will be closed to the public until further notice beginning May 10, 2021. Image/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Manluk Centre to close following new provincial restrictions

The Manluk Centre will be closed to the public until further notice beginning May 10, 2021.

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Big truck semi trailer moves on the highway towards sunset
Alberta’s cross-border truckers to be vaccinated at Montana rest stop

2,000 Alberta truck drivers who transport goods across the border will be able to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Montana

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

Most Read