While neither - I nor any member of my family - suffered from mental illness, our family home for a number of years was within one mile from the Provincial Mental Hospital in B.C. - Essondale.

The buildings are/were in a park like setting on the side of a hill and above the local highway. As well as trees and lawns there were well maintained flower gardens and an orchard. Across the highway and the CPR tracks was Colony Farm - the provincial experimental station.

Upon graduation from high school I had to wait for an opening in a chartered Accountants office in order to continue my studies. Through a friend I learned that there was a temporary position open in the office at Essondale and my application was successful.

The tasks to which I was assigned was to handle the meal tickets for the employees and to look after the 'comfort money' which was deposited for various patients to use.

Except for my maternal grandfather being stricken by Alzheimer's disease there were no mental illness issues in my family, When I first went to work there I was quite nervous about the interaction with patients but my anxiety was eased very quickly - the patients whom I met and interacted with were never threatening and some were quite sweet. I have fond memories of one older woman who - while ill - was permitted to go wherever she pleased. In the office, in the dining room or wandering the grounds she was always anxious to tell others that her cat had given birth to a litter - and all of them had 'blue eyes!

Ernie (Toronto)