Our History

The Department of Psychiatry was founded in 1907 when Professor Charles K. Clarke became the University’s first Professor of Psychiatry (1908-1924). He also served as Superintendent of the Toronto Hospital for the Insane (1905-1911), Dean of Medicine (1908-1920) and Superintendent of Toronto General Hospital (1911-1920). Professor Clarence B. Farrar was the second Professor of Psychiatry from 1925 until 1947. He was the first Director of the Toronto Psychiatric Hospital (TPH) and was the Editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry for 34 years, 1931-1965.

Following Dr. Farrar, Professor Aldwyn B. Stokes was recruited from Maudsley Hospital to head the Department (1947-1967) and to become Director of the TPH. Dr. Stokes campaigned for the founding of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, opened in 1966, to succeed and expand upon the TPH.

Professor Robin C.A. Hunter arrived in 1967 as Chairman of the Department from Queen’s University. He was named Psychiatrist-in-Chief of the Clarke Institute, becoming Director and CEO in 1969. In 1973, he was appointed Associate Dean (Clinical) of the Faculty of Medicine.

Professor Fredrick H. Lowy from the University of Ottawa was appointed in 1974 as Chairman of the Department and Director and Psychiatrist-in-Chief of the Clarke Institute. Dr. Lowy served in these capacities until 1980 when he became Dean of Medicine.

Professor Vivian Rakoff was appointed Chair of the Department in 1980 and Psychiatrist-in-Chief of the Clarke Institute, serving until 1990. Dr. Rakoff was honoured as the namesake of the Centre for Positron Emission Tomography in recognition of his successful efforts to have it established at the Clarke Institute.

Professor Paul E. Garfinkel served from 1990-2000 as Chair of Psychiatry and, until 1998, as President and Psychiatrist-in-Chief of the Clarke Institute. In 1998, Dr. Garfinkel succeeded to his present position as the inaugural President and CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)…

In 2000, serving until 2010, Professor Donald A. Wasylenki, Psychiatrist-in-Chief at St. Michael’s Hospital, was appointed Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. While at St. Michael’s, Dr. Wasylenki had held an Endowed Chair in Inner City Health. During 2007-08 the Department celebrated its Centenary with a range of historically-themed academic and cultural events.

In 2010 Professor L. Trevor Young was appointed Department Chair until 2014, when he was named the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. Dr. Molyn Leszcz served as the Department’s Interim Chair from October 2014-August 2015. Dr. Benoit Mulsant is the Department’s current Chair.

History Resources:

The History of the Department of Psychiatry

An Illustrated History of the Department of Psychiatry