Friday, May 27

The Old Don Jail

The above photo shows the Old Don Jail on the left. The New Don Jail on the right.
The Old Don Jail

Known throughout Ontario as the the "Don Jail" the Toronto Jail has housed the some of most notorious criminals in Canadian history. It is located on the Don Jail Roadway, near the intersection of Broadway and Gerrard Street East in Toronto.

The jail opened in 1864 and pre-dates Canadian Confederation. It was designed by renowned architect, William Thomas, who came to Toronto from England in 1843.

Cells in the "old" Don Jail were cramped, measuring only 40 inches wide by 10 feet long and were designed to hold only one prisoner. The capacity at the jail was 275 prisoners. In its hey-day, the "old" Don Jail was one of the finest in the Canada. The prisoners were incarcerated in the cell block 23 hours a day and spent one hour in the exercise yard. Talking was punishable by flogging. The jail included a "Death Row," and 34 men were hanged there.

In the beginning, hangings were open to the public and took place in the courtyard. The jail actually sold tickets to the event. After one badly botched hanging, laws in Canada were changed. In 1869, public hangings were abolished in Canada. It took until 1905 for the gallows at the Don Jail to be moved inside to a converted washroom.

Thirty of the men who were hung in the Don Jail were convicted of murder. Four were convicted of rape. The last execution took place in Canada on December 11, 1962 at the Don Jail.

A new east wing was added to the Don Jail in 1958. It became known as the "new" Don Jail. No criminal in his right mind wanted to be held there. The average stay was 30 to 90 days because this new jail only housed those who were awaiting trial or those waiting for arraignment. Many men plead guilty to crimes to avoid being sent to the Don Jail.

In 2003, the Don Jail was deemed unfit by Justice Richard Schneider. It no longer met the requirements of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners that was set by the United Nations.

The Don Jail was officially closed in 2009. It will be forever remembered for its reputation by those who lived in Ontario while it remained open.

The historical "old" Don Jail's beautiful architecture will not be lost. It is to be integrated into a 12 storey hospital that will be run by Bridgepoint Health.

Behind the Old Don Jail was a cemetery that is now known as The Executioner's Graveyard, but that is another story.

Thursday, May 26

The Most Depressing States in the USA

I was doing a bit of surfing tonight and found a most interesting article on the most depressing States in the US.

Arkansas - This State ranks high on the list and rates as one that has a high rate of depression, especially among young people.

Indiana - A sluggish economy, high unemployment, and massive budget shortfalls contribute to the depression in this Rust Belt State.

Kentucky - Rates of depression and other mental-health problems are higher than the national average throughout the mountainous and sparsely settled region known as Appalachia. They are higher still in the coal-mining areas of central Appalachia, which includes most of eastern Kentucky. Unemployment and drug abuse escalate the problems of the people living in this region.

Michigan - Few states have been as battered by the economic downturn as Michigan. With unemployment as high as 20% in some counties, it’s not surprising that residents might be feeling distressed.

Mississippi - The poorest state in the U.S., Mississippi ranks at or near the bottom on many health measures, from obesity to heart disease. Mental health is no exception. The state has the highest rate of depression in the nation (14.8%), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and it has the third-highest rate of frequent mental distress (13.5%)

Missouri - Missouri isn’t at the bottom of the barrel in any one measure of mental health, but it gets very low marks in several areas, including the rate of serious psychological distress (13%).

Fortunately for residents, the Show-Me State has had a proactive approach to preventing and treating mental-health problems. In 2008 it began a pilot program to integrate primary care and mental health care.

Nevada - For out-of-state visitors, Nevada often evokes images of gambling, partying, skiing, and other carefree diversions. For those who live there, the reality is often quite different. Nevada has high rates of mental distress, and, at last count, about 1 in 11 residents had experienced at least one episode of major depression in the previous year.

Oklahoma - Maybe it’s the flat, barren landscape and threat of severe weather; maybe it’s the high poverty rate (16%) and low rates of health-insurance coverage. For whatever reason, the Sooner State ranks in the bottom five of every category we considered. Even the official state rock song is depressing.

Tennessee - It may not be a coincidence that Memphis and Nashville are famous, respectively, for their blues and heartsick country music. By one measure, Tennessee is the unhappiest state in the union: Nearly 10% of residents have experienced an episode of major depression in the previous year.

Like Mississippi, Tennessee also has high rates of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes, the stress of which can worsen depression. As many as 70% of Tennesseans who see a primary care physician for obesity, diabetes, or hypertension meet the criteria for depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders, the state’s mental health commissioner has estimated.

West Virginia - The Mountain State is ranked last or next-to-last in every mental-health category on our list, including the average number of "mentally unhealthy" days residents have per month and the percentage of people who experience frequent mental distress (15%).

One reason may be that roughly two-thirds of West Virginians live in rural areas, where both steady jobs and access to mental health care can be hard to come by.

Wednesday, May 25

A Wake Up Call

I just finished reading this blog post by my friend Ms. Kathleen of A Picturesque Life. and it was a wake up call. Kathleen has mentioned that she wasn't a hoarder like you see on tv, but had trouble letting go of things. I have the same problem and I'm glad she brought it up. There's so many things that I think about getting rid of and then think, "Well, maybe one of the grandsons or my daughter would like it, or maybe even my niece."

Since I sell vintage items in my Etsy shop I do have things in my house temporarily until they sell. They are fairly organized in boxes or on shelves and they are not as much the problem here as the things that are personally mine and hubby's. Every time I think of getting rid of something I think about the person who gave it to us or think about where it came from. I tend to hang on to these types of things for sentimental reasons...but....does anyone else really care where the Circus World plate came from or the Southern Belle Depression Glass lamp? Both of these particular items have been collecting dust for years. Why am I keeping them? I do love the lamp, but have no special attachment to the plate. Then there are the President plates that I bought in the late 70s and early 80s when I was vacationing in the US.

I have gotten rid of many of the things that I've collected over the years but can't bear to give away gifts that people have given to us. I guess I'm afraid their feelings would be hurt if they visited and found that I had given these things away. On the other hand, like Kathleen asks, would they even remember? They might if they actually saw the item on display, but they might not.

Thanks, Kathleen, for giving me a wake up call. I think there will be a few more things listed in my Etsy shop if we ever get enough sunshine to take photos.