From the street, New Westminster’s Hollywood Hospital didn’t look like much. Just a rambling white mansion, mostly obscured behind the holly trees from which it took its name.
But, between 1957 and 1968, it served as a mecca for alcoholics, anxiety patients, and unhappy couples, its unorthodox methods boasting a success rate of 50-80%, and attracting scores of celebrity patients, including Andy Williams, Cary Grant, and Ethel Kennedy. Those same methods would eventually bring about the facility’s downfall, as well as the condemnation of physicians, the government, and the police.
Because, for the better part of a decade, Hollywood Hospital was the site of more than 6000 supervised LSD trips. Under the care of psychiatrist J. Ross MacLean and researcher/ex-spy Al “Captain Trips” Hubbard, it was the only medical facility in BC (and one of a handful across the country) venturing into the brave new world of psychedelic psychiatry — from a specialized inner sanctum known as the Acid Room.
“He who is about to come to life under the impact of LSD-25 must first learn how to die.”
— Ben Metcalfe, Vancouver Province, Sept 1, 1959