When 'poorhouse' wasn't only an expression
- Tracey Tyler, Toronto Star, Canada
The oldest surviving example of a poorhouse in Canada is in Wellington County. The building, a national historic site, opened in 1877, a time when 'pauperism' was considered a moral failing that could be erased through order and hard work.
The poorhouse system was the foundation for today's government-funded social assistance programs.
It was also something Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe had very much wanted to avoid when he arrived in Upper Canada in 1791.
In his native England, more than 100,000 people were swallowed up in work houses, funded by a 'poor tax' on landowners and criticized for being costly and creating cycles of dependency.