Hugh Parfitt Papers

Hugh Parfitt Papers

1970s man with glasses, jacket and tie and holding a cup of coffeeBorn in England in 1935, Hugh Parfitt trained in medicine at the St. Thomas’s Hospital Medical School at the University of London. Parfitt emigrated to Canada in 1960, working first as a medical officer in the Canadian Army, then attended McGill University where he received a Diploma in Psychiatry in 1963.  A move to Vancouver followed in 1966, where Parfitt first taught at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry and then set up a private practice.

In 1973 Parfitt met Dr. John Cumming, author of the 1972 “Vancouver Plan” and architect of a new network of community mental health clinics in the city.  This encounter changed the trajectory of Parfitt’s career for more than a decade, making him an actor in the history of deinstitutionalization in the region.  After spending time with various mental health teams at the Broadway, Strathcona and Westend offices, Parfitt took the position of psychiatrist on the new Kitsilano Mental Health Team in 1974. This collection of documents, published material, and photographs covers aspects of Parfitt’s professional work and interests over this period and includes an interesting set research material about the federal Local Initiatives Program (LIP) and Local Employment Assistance Program (LEAP), the MPA (Mental Patients Association), and the radical Vancouver Emotional Emergency Centre.  Additionally, there are a set of papers relating to the Kitsilano Citizens Committee (a unique and short-lived feature of Vancouver’s new community mental health system) that dovetail with documents in the Lanny Beckman Papers.  Hugh Parfitt generously shared his archives with Madness Canada when he was interviewed for the After the Asylum project in 2010 and again in 2014.

Parfitt moved out of community mental health in 1985 and subsequently served Chief of Psychiatry for the Royal Columbia Hospital and Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Shaughnessy Hospital.