|Lady Minto Hospital (www.chapleau.com)|
"The citizens of Chapleau feel they have a right to be proud of their public institutions, and a visit to the hospital will convince anyone that they are not being over egoistical" the editorial said. It is a "spendid institution". Construction began in August 1913.
When it opened, Lady Minto Hospital was the only hospital between Sudbury and Fort William, now Thunder Bay. In those days Chapleau was primarily a railroad town with lumber operations also opening up along the CPR line. There were many serious injuries and the need for a hospital between the two larger communities became apparent. Dr. J.J. Sheahan, who arrived in 1907 was one of the prime movers behind getting a hospital at Chapleau. J.J. Scully, then the CPR superintendent at North Bay agreed and Chapleau got the hospital.
The funds for construction were raised through a public subscription campaign with the CPR being the largest donor with $5,000, followed by the Victorian Order of Nurses with $3,000, with the latter assuming responsibility for the hospital with a local board.
The hospital had four private and two semi-private wards as well as women's and men's public wards with 20 beds in each at normal capacity. The Headlight reported that it had up-to-date operating and sterilizing rooms, and baths, lavatories and overall "in every way a modern and up-to-date institution."
The furnishings were described as the best "giving the whole insititution an appearance that would be difficult to excel.
"There are no doubt many larger hospitals than the Lady Minto at Chapleau but we believe it will be hard to find any more complete and up-to-date in every detail and appointment."
By 1914, Chapleau citizens were justifiably proud of the progress in the community. Led by G.B. Nicholson, the first reeve from 1901 to 1913, who was also secretary of the first hospital board, the new Town Hall was also opened in 1914, and Chapleau was a busy place.
The first president of the hospital board was Dr. J.J. Sheahan, who practised medicine in Chapleau until his death in 1942.
Fast forward to about 1950, and the hospital board realized it was time for renovations. At the annual meeting of 1952, Charles W. Collins, the chair of the board and D.O. Payette, secretary, presented plans which would also include a nurses' residence.
Mr. Collins urged the board members to go on record as supporting the project "100 percent" which they did.
By 1955 the renovations including the nurses' residence had been completed. The sun parlours on the east and west ends of the hospital located on Elm Street, across from Queen Street (I just realized that not all readers would know where the Lady Minto Hospital was located). were enclosed and the space provided turned into wards.
Of all the improvements perhaps the most important was an elevator that became a reality through a generous gift from the W.E. Mason Foundation. Mr. Mason was a great supporter of Northern Ontario and founder of the Sudbury Star newspaper.
The kitchen had been moved to the basement with all new equipment described as 'the last word in cooking convenience for large scale service. Miss Sophie Herner had donated a spacious dining room for the nurses, which doubled as a room for hospital board meetings. Lab technician Sigvard Pearson had a new "bright room well stocked with testing materials and equipment."
Arthur J. Grout, the chair of the board estimated the total cost of the renovations at $315,000.
By this time, Dr. G.E. Young was chief of the medical staff, while Mrs. S. Crozier was director of nursing.
In the early 1970s, planning started for the replacement of Lady Minto Hospital and that is a story for another day!. My sincere thanks to Anne (Zufelt) McGoldrick and Doug Greig for their tremendous assistance in researching the history of Lady Minto Hospital. Any errors are mine. . My email is firstname.lastname@example.org