East Lawn, formerly known as the Female Chronic Wing, was completed on October 2nd of 1929. Overcrowding at the Public House for the Insane in New Westminster was done away with, with the new building creating 360,903 square feet of room for female patients; making it the largest building on the Riverview site. As with Center Lawn, it was not designed by the same architect as West Lawn, but incorporated a very similar style.
East lawn had a rated capacity of 675 patients but by the early 50’s it was housing 1,409 patients. It was stated that half the hospital beds in Canada were set apart for mental cases and the Canadian National Committee of Mental Hygiene was working steadily to head off some of the 9,000 who were yearly admitted to the mental hospitals of Canada. Throughout the 1930’s deportation or repatriation was heavily relied upon to reduce the patient population of mental hospitals.
An area in the front center, on the third floor, was set up as an infirmary for female staff. The first Nurses Home was opened in November to provide accommodation for the staff. An Occupational Therapist was hired for the women and was an invaluable asset along with the manufacturing of nurses’ uniforms, patients’ clothing and sewing rooms for repairs of all types of clothing were also carried out by the department. This year also noted the beginning of the nurses’ training school; classes were held in East Lawn on the fifth floor.
An important date to note is in 1959 when mixed dining was started between male patients from West lawn and female patients from East lawn; this was the first thing of its kind and was frowned upon by many. These dinners began on an irregular basis and was usually a part of an evening’s entertainment event. Later on in the year, in June, staff and patients from all areas of the hospital organized what was considered the most successful Sports Day to date. Staff and patients were permitted to bring their immediate families; it was also the first time that nursing staff were allowed to wear civilian clothing to such an event.
By the end of the 50’s, hydrotherapy, sleep therapy, and foam and sedative baths were discontinued and no longer used.
In 1974, 50 male patients were transferred to East Lawn when the “C” side of West Lawn was closed; this move changed East lawn into a multi gender building.
From its beginnings in 1930, as an all-Female unit, with ward counts in excess of at least 150 patients, East Lawn evolved to integrated, specialized wards with an average of 25 bed counts. As part of the downsizing process wards were gradually being closed in East Lawn with patients transferring to other community facilities or other wards within the hospital.
East lawn closed in 2005 and is now extensively used by the film industry.