In celebration of The Hamilton Spectator’s 170th anniversary, we dug into the archives at Hamilton Public Library and wrestled up The Spec’s 1882 article on the opening of what is now known as Hamilton General Hospital. This article from April 15th, 1882 details the opening of Hamilton’s first purpose built public hospital, and one that would eventually become part of Hamilton Health Sciences.
Transcribed from the 1882 article “The New Hospital”
A Magnificent Addition to the Public Charities of Hamilton
“The Greatest of These is Charity”
Citizens of Hamilton can point with pride to her number of charitable institutions which in proportion to its size are not excelled in beauty or utility by those of any other city in the Dominion. If, as St. Paul says, after enumerating the cardinal virtues, “The greatest of these is charity,” then the number and variety of Hamilton charitable institutions should be a great source of pride. They are both public and private, and are supported by all denominations. Of the public institutions, the chief is the city hospital, for which new and beautiful buildings are now completed. It is almost a year since the ground was broken for these buildings, and if the work has not been done rapidly it has the decidedly better feature of having been done well. The old building at the foot of John Street was in an out of the way place. It had some time ago out-lasted its usefulness, and additions were made to it. But it is hard to make a good coat by patching up an old one and it was decided to build a new hospital which would be such as was needed by a city of the size of Hamilton. Four lots of one acre each were purchased and the location of the hospital fixed at the corner of Barton Street and Victoria Avenue. The location is a good one, for though it is not central, it is still near enough to the more thickly settled part of the city, and the ground was obtained at a fair price. The contracts were let a year ago last December, but little work could be done until spring. The plans were drawn by Mr. Lucien Hills, and the buildings are models of convenience and beauty. The new hospital is composed of three buildings, which stand well back from the street. The grounds are surrounded by a neat fence, and will probably be beautified and planted with trees, a matter which will come up at the next meeting of the city council.
The Main Building
The main building is a handsome one of red and white brick, with stone foundations like the other buildings. It is 46 by 67 feet, and has four furnished stories, basement, first and second stories and mansard roof. In the main building will be the office and rooms of the resident physician, kitchen in the basement and dormitories for the servants in the attic. The main building will also contain the lying in wards and some private wards. The whole of the buildings are now almost completed, the work remaining being simply that of finishing up.
Separate from the main or centre buildings are the two buildings in which are the wards. They are 140 feet long by 47 feet wide. The side buildings are two stories high with basement. They are connected with the main building by a corridor, which can be entered at the basement, first or second stories. The stories above the basement are devoted to wards, and very cheerful, comfortable places they are. They are well lighted, and the aspect is such that there is plenty of sunlight almost all day. The system of ventilation seems to be all that is needed, and there are four or five fire places in the centre of the wards. The whole establishment is built on the best possible plan, and everything is conveniently located. Speaking tubes connect the resident physician and the engineer with all parts of the hospital, and dumb waiters run from the basement to the upper stories of the wards building. The present appearance of the buildings is very creditable to Mr. Hills, who was superintendent as well as architect of the works. The contractors were: Masonry, Mr. Isaiah Beer; carpenter work, Mr. R. Cruickshank; plastering, Mr. Kennedy; painting, Mr. James Mathews; plumbing, Young & Bro.; slating, Mr. Bishop. The amount of the contract was $35,000.
At the last meeting of the city council the report of the Hospital committee recommended several new buildings be erected on the grounds of the new hospital. The report, which also contained the recommendation to beautify the grounds, was laid over till next meeting of the council. The buildings were: A new laundry and morgue, a driving shed, a smallpox hospital and a scarlet fever hospital. These, except the laundry and morgue, which will be of brick, are intended to be of frame and will cost about $5,000. Just now it is a question if some of them, at least, will be erected at all. It is thought in a month or two the new hospital will be ready for occupation. It is heated throughout by steam heating apparatus, manufactured by J.H. Killey & Co., of this city.
This column was sourced from Hamilton Public Library’s Local History and Archives.