The Founding
from A History of The Port Hope Hospital 1911-1980 by Isabel M Humble


The original Hospital was opened in this house in 1913 on Hope Street. The house is still standing as of 2017

Port Hope's first public hospital was opened in January, 1913. Prior to this, however, a private hospital managed by Dr. W. W. McKinley had been in operation as early as 1911.
The first public meeting to promote a hospital (click here) was held in the Town Hall on April 28, 1911, and an executive committee was appointed to handle subscriptions to a hospital fund. The members were R. A. Mulholland, Mayor of Port Hope; John Hume; John H. Helm; H. T. Bush; A. H. C. Long; Colonel H. A. Ward; J. L. Schwartz; E. J. W. Burton; E. M. Thurber; G. H. Ralston; H. H. Burnham; A. E. Pipher; Barlow Cumberland; R. Grandy; C. S. Mann; and J. Stephenson.

A fund had already been started through the efforts of Mrs. E. J. W. Burton, wife of the Canadian National Railway agent, and a group of women who were to become the nucleus of the Women's Hospital Mission. An appeal was made by the Executive Committee to Old Boys and Girls of Port Hope and the goal of $20,000.00 was soon reached.

Meanwhile on May 25, 1911, the Port Hope Hospital Trust was incorporated as a Private Liability Company under "The Ontario Companies Act," for the purpose, among other things, of erecting and maintaining a Hospital in the Town of Port Hope to be known as "The Port Hope Hospital."

The original trustees, elected at a meeting on July 13, 1911, were: President, R. A. Mulholland; Vice-President, E. M. Thurber; Secretary, E. J. W. Burton; Treasurer, H. T. Bush; and Messrs. Cumberland, Hume, Ward, Schwartz and Mann, members of the Board.

Hospital architects were next consulted to obtain plans for a building at a cost not to exceed $15,000.00. Before the incorporation of the Trust, John Hume had made the generous offer of a site at the corner of the Base Line and Hope Street. Dr. Bruce Smith, Inspector of Public Relations, Toronto, inspected the site and said it was excellent.

On March 8, at a public meeting in the Town Hall, it was announced that the late John Helm had provided in his Will $100,000.00 for construction of a Counties' Hospital on the property recently occupied by him (Greenwood Tower) on the Cobourg Road. The meeting resolved that if the United Counties accepted the conditions stated in the Will and erected a Hospital, the Port Hope Hospital Trust would pay $10,000.00 to the authorities in charge of the United Counties Hospital. Two days later the Counties Council voted against acceptance of the $100,000.00 bequest. Mr. Helm's Will also included a bequest of $20,000.00 for the Hospital in Port Hope if it were in "active and successful" operation two years after his death, which occurred in January, 1912.

Mr. John Helm again offered his lot to the Trust or the value of it in cash. The use of the lot for hospital purposes was precluded due to the decision of the Canadian Pacific Railway to build a railway in the vicinity.

The most suitable of other sites inspected was the Janes' lot at the corner of Hope and Ward Streets, consisting of approximately two and a half acres of land, the west boundary was Princess Street, and the south, private property. The purchase price of $5,000.00 included the two-storey brick house on Hope Street which had formerly been the home of Colonel William McLean who owned a piano and organ business on the south side of Walton Street adjoining the fire hall. Three sons were to become top executives in Canada Packers — Stanley, President; and Norman, Vice-President of the Company in Toronto; and Ernest, 1st Vice-President in Montreal. J. Stanley McLean later gave $25,000.00 to the Port Hope Hospital.

The architect, Mr. Burry, inspected the property and suggested that the house should be used as a temporary hospital until the new one was completed. The Janes family returned $1,000.00 of the purchase price, the value of the lot offered by Mr. Hume, as a donation to the hospital. This sum, a $2,000.00 bequest from Miss Carr, a $10,000.00 bequest from Dr. J. W. Clemesha, and the prospect of $20,000.00 from the Helm estate, added to funds already collected, brought the total to more than $50,000.00 before the first annual meeting.

At this meeting of the Trust on June 20, 1912, approval was given to proceed with building a new hospital on the site at a cost of $25,000.00 to $30,000.00. This would leave a balance of $20,000.00 for maintenance.

The tender of Thomas Garnett and Sons for improvements and alterations to the house on the property was accepted, the contract figure being $1,375.00. Work was completed and the 9 bed hospital opened in January, 1913 with Miss Cummings engaged as superintendent and Miss Lang as
assistant. The medical staff consisted of Dr. L. B. Powers, Dr. McLean, Dr. George A. Dickinson, Dr. A. B. Aldrich, Dr. W. W. McKinley, Dr. J. F. McKinley, Dr. R. F. Forrest, and Dr. Bruce Whyte. Two doctors were on duty each month.

The Port Hope Hospital was officially recognized as a public hospital in May, 1913 and was placed on the list of general hospitals of Ontario. From that date it was entitled to Government and Municipal Grants.

Dr. W. W. McKinley had been elected to the Hospital Board, June 20, 1912. Before the next annual meeting, Dr. Bruce Smith, Inspector of Hospitals (who was present at a meeting where the matter was discussed) stated that he did not think it was wise that there should be a member of the medical profession on the Board of Directors.

At the annual meeting, June 19, 1913, a new building was discussed but it was decided that the success of the present hospital should be assured before proceeding with plans. In less than six months, 35 adults and five children had been admitted to hospital.

Miss E. M. Elliott of Niagara Falls arrived in October, 1913, to assume the duties of superintendent, a position she would hold until her retirement in 1941. Dr. H. W. Benson joined the medical staff in January, 1914.

In the period from January, 1913 to July, 1914, the hospital on Hope Street had cared for 620 patients. The conditions of the Helm Will were met and the bequest was paid in April.

Early in 1915, Ellis and Ellis, architects, were engaged to prepare plans for the new hospital. The tender of J. Trick & Company of Oshawa, amounting to $23,975.00 was accepted in July. Mr. Thurber, Mrs. Elizabeth Edgar and Colonel Ward were appointed members of the Building Committee.

Mr. Thurber, manager of Nicholson File Company, had been a trustee since 1911. He was appointed chairman in 1913 and held that position until the time of his death in 1934. Even during his illness he had kept in touch with hospital matters. However, C. S. Mann established an all-time record for length of service. He was a member of the Board from 1911 until 1950, at various times acting as secretary or treasurer.


Port Hope Hospital annex tent, manufactured by J J Turner

"Early in the winter of 1915," Mr. Thurber reported, "the officers of the 136th Battalion asked the hospital to care for sick soldiers. Surgical cases were cared for in the hospital. The Board purchased and erected a regulation hospital tent for medical cases. (Mr. Thurber also donated a smaller tent.) In the early spring several cases of measles developed in the tent. In less than a day the Board rented a house on Hope Street for which the Board of Health paid $8.00 a month and the hospital supplied equipment. Two nurses from the Isolation Hospital in Toronto came to take charge. The hospital supplied food and with the assistance of orderlies from the tent, it was sent over to the house. Eventually there were from 10 to 15 patients in isolation. From June 15 to August 16, 1915, the hospital cared for over 200 soldiers, about 50 being surgical cases."

During this time, a cow had been purchased for $67.00 and a "flock of fowl" for $7.50. A new barn was built a year later.

In July, Hope Township Council was requested to appoint a member to the Board.

The laying of the cornerstone of the new hospital took place on October 8, 1915 with Mr. J. H. Helm officiating at the ceremony:
"Although the old building was only planned for nine beds, we have had as many as 15 patients at a time", Mr. Thurber said, "and the nurses have had to sleep on the floor at times. Your Board regrets that on account of lack of money they were unable to erect a building as originally planned providing 27 beds. To keep within our means, one end of the building was omitted, but the heating, plumbing and general facilities are large enough to take care of the addition when we have to erect it."

It was also thought that an elevator could not be provided at the time, but Mrs. Edgar donated it.

In March, 1916, the overworked Superintendent reported that more accommodation would be needed for soldiers. Purchase of another tent was discussed but left in abeyance because the hospital was close to completion.




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