This is a photo with some local folks at the School for Deaf and Dumb in Belleville- Faded writing makes me want to research this photo so all is not lost. May 1888–Deaf and Dumb
“Mother’s Uncle Mr. David Watson and students from the Deaf and Dumb School in Belleville”
Deaf and Dumb
“Deaf and dumb” (or even just “dumb”, when applied to deaf people who do not speak) is an archaic term that is considered offensive.
Many Deaf people do not use a spoken language, thus they are technically “mute”. The word “dumb” has at least an archaic meaning that means “mute”. Of course, the word “dumb” also has another more common meaning now that implies stupidity, which is certainly not applicable to most Deaf people.
Given the long history of deafness, and the fact that Deaf people have been incorrectly assumed to be mentally deficient just because they do not speak, you can imagine that most Deaf people do not appreciate being called “Deaf and Dumb”.
Today, anyone using the word “dumb” in such context is …. well … dumb.
The Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf was founded in 1870 in Belleville, Ontario, known then as The Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb. It was renamed in 1913 as the Ontario School for the Deaf. It has been known as the Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf since 1974.
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 27 Dec 1930, Sat, Page 26
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 24 Sep 1903, Thu, Page 8
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 24 Oct 1933, Tue, Page 18
George Ackermann taught art at the Brockville Deaf and Dumb Institute (he was probably deaf and dumb himself) and painted most attractive na’ive topographical water-colours. One is of a local militia rally near Brockville in 1869, with relatives and lady friends picnicing along the roadside in a holiday mood; others show
Ackermann, George, 1816/7 – after 1860, active 1866-77, (McKendry; Harper; Folk Artists; Painters in a New Land;
——Coverdale Collection of Canadiana; Biographical Index of Artists in Canada)
Ackermann, George, Court House and Jail on Court House Square, Brockville,
Ontario, watercolour on paper, circa 1870, 34.7 x 52.1 cm, National Archives
of Canada, Ottawa, C 40351.
In my research I have found out that people who could not speak or hear were considered to be on a lower level from those that could in past years. In fact, in all the newspaper archives, including the Ottawa Journal, had postings in the local newspaper when a child or person went to The Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb.
The Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb was first called The Deaf and Dumb Asylum. In those days people that were deaf were also considered to be dumb. How horrible to be singled out and labeled. The pull of the asylum and the workhouse was strong, but many thousands of people with disabilities tried to stay in their small rural communities like Carleton Place. Can you imagine the loneliness and isolation experienced by a deaf child?
The Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb was named after for the former premier of Ontario, James Whitney. The school was renamed three times: The Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb (1870–1912), The Ontario School for the Deaf (1913–1973) and The Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf (since 1974).
During the Second World War, the Ontario School for the Deaf building was used by the Royal Canadian Air Force for No. 5 Initial Training School (5 ITS), as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. A commemorative plaque is dedicated to the 6,664 graduates of 5 ITS; especially those who gave their lives in the air force service to their country in the Second World War.
The Ontario Heritage Trust erected a plaque for the ‘Ontario School for the Deaf’ on the grounds of the school that reads:
“The first provincial school for deaf children, this residential institution combined elementary school subjects with vocational training when it opened in 1870. Over the years, ever-increasing enrollment has promoted the steady expansion of the school’s facilities and curricula”.
Perth Courier, March 14, 1890
The following pupils from the County of Lanark are in attendance at the institution for the Deaf and Dumb in Belleville: Maud Culligan, of Appleton; A. Gardner of Watson’s Corners; A. Lockhart of Almonte; William Thackaberry of Carleton Place.
Perth Courier, May 8, 1885
From the Annual Report of the Ontario Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, Belleville, issued by Mr. R. Matheson, we learn that the following pupils from the late unified counties were attending the institute on September last:
Lanark County: Levi Brian, Carleton Place; Alfred P. Lockhart, Blakeney; Peter J. Malone, Almonte.
Renfrew County: Charles F. Mellents (?) and Alfred F. Fraser, Pembroke; Janet Micks, Micksburg; Janet Ronnell (or Russell), Renfrew
Gertrude McPhee of Brandon, Man.(?).
Read the Perth Courier at Archives Lanark