Part 3: Nick Toner Story Looking out at the Beautiful Scenery of Orillia

Written by Nick Toner

My Story (Part 3)

Nick lives in Nelson, BC with 3 roommates.

Nick cares about his community and wants to share his story about growing up in an institution.

He wants to educate folks so the government does not go backwards and repeat the same mistakes.

He wants to keep those doors closed.

Nick’s story will be broken up into chapters and shared once every two months.

To read Part 1 click here:

To read Part 2 click here:

Part 3: Looking out at the Beautiful Scenery of Orillia 

From the inside looking out, you could see bars on the windows of the Huronia Regional Centre. There was no privacy in that place.

The washrooms did not have any doors on them; they were wide open. There were no doors on the showers either. Everyone had to go to bed at the same time at 8 pm. There were thirty beds in a room with a mixture of ages. All the walls were basically yellow. We were segregated from the girls; they were in a separate dormitory. We would go to Sunday school and see the girls from the other cottages then.

There were some good things that happened to me and others. We sometimes got privilege cards to go out that we could us on our own; otherwise, you would have to go with everyone else. I was in a school choir at Orillia, and we went to North Bay Music Festival. We ate at McDonald’s and I don’t know what happened, but I had so much gas that I burped through the song “Chatanooga Choo Choo” and everyone laughed. We took first place!

I have never been to Macdonald’s since then. Just kidding. I am glad there was some laughter.

I did enjoy the woodworking teacher and he was pretty good to me. I made a few letterboxes. We made things with the teacher, like wooden toy trains. The toys were sent to poor people living on Saint Vincent’s Island in the Caribbean. There were trains made out of wood. The best toy I remember having was a walkie-talkie so I could talk with a friend.

The teachers were not too bad. Huronia Regional Centre was supposed to be the Lord Simcoe Hotel, but I guess they decided it was too big to be a hotel. At the time, there were 2000 children living there. It was mentioned in the Danny and Nicky film. Somebody that was in my ward had tied someone up in a wheelchair and put them in a boathouse. She eventually died since they did not find her soon enough.


To be continued…

Part 4 will be published in July or August.


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