Former Huronia Regional Centre opens doors for public tours
The former Huronia Regional Centre (HRC) opened its doors to the public for tours on Monday.
The Ontario government opened the centre in Orillia for tours today and Sunday. Many people walked through the front doors of the centre for different reasons.
“We’ve seen the building for years and years and always wanted to see what it’s like, what’s inside and how people lived,” said Orillia residents Molly and Leslie Soltay.
The centre was in operation from 1876 until it closed in 2009.
The public opportunity tour was an opportunity for the public to see were some residents lived were taught and a better understand of what life was like here.
Last fall, a $35 million lawsuit filed by former residents against the province on allegations of abuse was settled and there was also an apology from the province.
Former residents, their family members and the public were granted the opportunity to tour the grounds as part of the settlement.
Patricia Seth lived at Huronia Regional Centre for 14 years and was part of the class action lawsuit. For Seth, revisiting the HRC brought back a lot of painful memories.
“The place could be a palace if you treat it nice but all the rooms and what it looks likes cast aside; it was run a like a darn prison,” said Seth.
Elizabeth Lundmark’s twin brother was brought to HRC when he was five-years-old and died there when he was 17-years-old. Landmark came all the way from Dryden to get some answers.
“As far as what I saw I’m very disappointed,” said Lundmark. “I thought that I should have been taken through more buildings, talked to and explained; we didn’t get that.”
Some people on the tour were also thinking about the staff that worked at the centre and were left wondering what they went through.
“I thought it was a fantastically laid out place but it’s a pity that people these days don’t think about the doctors and nurses who have suffered equally because of they had to put up with,” said Molly Soltay.
On September 15th, the province is planning to unveil a commemorative plaque at the site, which is also part of the settlement agreement.