Abstract

Boys who were inmates at the Victoria Industrial School (VIS) from its opening in 1887 to its closure in 1934 often suffered extreme, violent, and capricious penalties and encountered calculated psychological manipulation. The violence they experienced and the justifications school officials put forward to account for such injurious practices are explored through case files, public investigations, newspaper reports, revelations from former inmates, defensive statements given by superintendents, and confessions by staff. Exploration of these sources suggests that, despite repeated recommendations from Toronto City Council, the public, and commissions of inquiry, violent penalties persisted. Despite claims to the contrary, the VIS was, for many boys, a cruel and merciless institution.

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