Rockwood asylum inspires songwriter

Simone Schmidt is seen in front of the Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane. (Supplied Photo) It was while researching another topic online that Simone Schmidt first came across a reference to Kingston’s Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The article, which had been published in the Whig-Standard, talked about how male patients were housed in the Cartwright estate and female ones in the nearby horse stables as inmates from nearby Kingston Penitentiary constructed the limestone structure over a dozen years. “I thought that was so striking, I got a song out of it right away,” Schmidt, who writes and sings under the stage name Fiver, said. “And I played that song for many years, and every time I played it, I think about the perspective that I was singing from and how I didn’t really have too much of an understanding of what life would have been like there.” Schmidt discovered, however, that very little had been written about the Rockwood Asylum, which today remains empty and boarded up along the waterfront in Portsmouth Village. So she went to the Ontario Archives, among other sources, to find out more about the female patients confined there. “I’m not an […]

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