Life

A look back at the history of hospitals in Camrose

By Kayden Prevost, Camrose Canadian Lifestyles Contributor

St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose opened its doors in 1924, 12 years after the Camrose Municipal Hospital opened. St. Mary’s has evolved over the generations to meet the growing needs of the community. Supplied

St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose opened its doors in 1924, 12 years after the Camrose Municipal Hospital opened. St. Mary’s has evolved over the generations to meet the growing needs of the community. Supplied

In 1910 the town of Camrose decided a community hospital was needed, and one year later the Camrose Municipal Hospital opened their doors. 

 

According to a Camrose Canadian article, it stated that “The institution is managed by an elective hospital board, which is well supported by a most capable staff of nurses and an energetic Ladies’ Hospital Aid.” Dr. P.F. Smith, a “dedicated, sympathetic, and popular doctor” became the first to work at the Municipal Hospital after he settled in Camrose in 1912. Dr. Smith had two sons Mac and Hamp who also became doctors. The three of them later formed the beginnings of the Smith Clinic.  

The Municipal Hospital drew in several new doctors in the early years who came to Camrose to set up medical practices, including Dr.F.A Nordbye in 1915, Dr. J.C. McFadden in 1916, Dr. E.P Smith in 1916, Dr. A. Couillard in 1916, and Dr. W.H. Craig in 1919. 

The municipal hospital building was eventually sold to the Alberta Bible Institute and formed their main building. 

St Mary’s Hospital 

After the First World War, the Municipal Hospital had become too small for the increase in the town’s population and the increased number of patients who needed care since the small hospital only housed 12 beds. Recognizing the community’s need, the mayor and councilors of Camrose invited the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul from Kingston, Ont., to Camrose and asked for help to build a bigger hospital in the area. Rev. M.J. Schnitzler was the loudest voice promoting the idea of a Sister’s Hospital for the district.  

In October of 1922, two sisters arrived to choose a site with the mayor and “a large block of land on Normal Hill” was chosen. When the sisters came upon the land, they deemed it “very appropriate – sun and air, with quiet surroundings.”  

On Oct. 24, 1924, after two years of construction, the hospital officially opened its doors with “fully modern facilities and the latest conveniences.” The hospital cost $100,000 to build and housed 50 beds. The first sisters that worked at the hospital were Sisters Mary Clotilda, Mary Emerita, Mary Clephas, Mary Matilda, Mary Alban and Mary Gerald. The sisters had their first patients on the “evening of Nov. 12, 1924 — the first patient had a ruptured appendix requiring an emergency operation. Three more patients were admitted … two requiring surgery.”  

From the 1940’s on, the hospital continued to update and add new additions that provided more beds, operating rooms, and care facilities for Camrose and area patients.  

Today, St. Mary’s Hospital is a modern, progressive hospital operated by Covenant Health that serves a diverse and growing rural community with a wide range of acute care services. 

  

Sources  

A light into the past pg. 41, 42, 43, 44, 45  

www.covenanthealth.ca/hospitals-care-centres/st-marys-hospital  

Dr. Lamb’s office section (St. Mary’s display), at the Old Timer’s Hut  

Camrose Story “Town of Camrose  

 “Sister’s Legacy carried through generations at St. Mary’s Hospital” article from covenanthealth.ca   

Is a summer student at the Camrose & District Centennial Museum. History matters. Visit your local museum Wednesdays-Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 



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