Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Sane or Insane?

Mar 15, 2014


It's Women's History Month (at least in the US and the UK, Canadians celebrate in October), so let's do some women's history.

I've posted one of my articles (here) that was first published in the June/July issue 1989 of The Beaver magazine, now known as Canada's History. I have done a bit more research on the story since then; the posted article has been updated from its original.

It tells the story of Rose Lynam, a Montreal woman who was incarcerated against her will in a Montreal lunatic asylum in 1882. The subsequent court case reverberated far beyond the high walls of the asylum, involving some of the most powerful politicians and religious leaders in Quebec. Most importantly it offered a rare look at life inside one of Canada's nineteenth century asylums at a time when their purpose was being brought very much into question.