The former London Asylum for the Insane (LAI) opened in 1870, and has transformed over the years in response to changing approaches to mental health care. In 1869 the provincial legislature appropriated $100,000 to build the London Asylum for the Insane, and 300 acres of land were purchased at $67 an acre. Older asylums at Malden and Orillia closed and were replaced by the new facility in London. The LAI was ready for occupation within 18 months of the site's purchase and its first patients arrived from Malden and Orillia in November 1870.
After its establishment, the LAI aimed to distinguish itself in the field of mental health care in Canada. The Asylum's first superintendent, Dr. Henry Landor, was an advocate of compassionate care, who believed in the restorative influence of a rural setting and the practical use of moral therapy. Landor encouraged the Province of Ontario to purchase of an additional 100 acres east of the original site for the erection of cottages that were intended to provide more comfortable and independent accommodation for long-term patients.
As the 20th century began to take shape, attitudes towards mental health care changed and the medical understanding of mental illness continued to develop. Control of all mental health care facilities in Ontario transferred from the Inspector of Prisons and Public Charities to the Department of Health in the 1930s. As part of this initiative, the LAI was renamed the Ontario Hospital for the Mentally Ill, London in 1932. In 1968 it was renamed the London Psychiatric Hospital (LPH). Now, 138 years later, what began as the London Asylum for the Insane has emerged as St. Joseph's Regional Mental Health Care London, one of the leading mental health care providers in Ontario.