Kimberley Community Album

Kimberley Hospital

The history of Kimberley’s hospital facilities mirrors the history of the town. As a mining town there was an obvious need for medical care as accidents did happen both above and below ground. Perhaps the first announcement was for the Marysville Hospital, coinciding with the building of the Marysville Smelter. It was to be a cottage hospital and, although it was never built, Marysville did have doctors beginning with Dr. Sawyer, Dr. Bishop and Dr. O’Hagen who was appointed physician for the smelter, sawmills, brickyard and Sullivan mine. Even Dr. G.E.L. MacKinnon, who came to practice in Cranbrook with Dr. F.W. Green, first moved to Marysville (1908).

Perhaps Dr. Tiffen was Kimberley’s first doctor. He established Kimberley’s first hospital (1912) in a home at 51 Howard Street, with living quarters and office with hospital rooms upstairs. Dr. Tiffen stayed in residence until 1925, when he moved to a new residence on Wallinger Avenue. The Howard Street facility was occupied by Dr. Hanington and then joined by Dr. D.W. Davis who relocated from Oregon.

Kimberley expanded, as did the need for doctors and medical facilities. By March 1925 the Consolidated Mining & Smelting Company of Canada (CM&S) had 1,100 men on its payroll and had contracted to build 50 homes. Dr. Hanington and others pressed for a new and larger hospital.

In 1925 the new McDougall Memorial Hospital opened on Second Avenue in McDougall Heights. Named after the first Sullivan mine superintendent the new hospital was owned by CM&S and run by a management board. It was a huge benefit to the community as the Kimberley Press of March 25, 1925 stated:

“The new hospital is much larger than the old one and is far better from every point of view…. In the old building there were only 14 beds for patients, while 24 beds are provided for in the new building…. It is in a splendid location and commands a wonderful view of the town and the surrounding mountains.”

In 1927 the Kimberley Hospital Society was formed and on March 29th, 1928 a ‘Kimberley Medical and Hospital Agreement’ was signed between CM&S and Dr. Daniel Wade Davis of Kimberley to furnish medical aid to all CM&S Kimberley employees, families and dependents. At the same time an agreement was signed between the Kimberley Hospital Society, CM&S and all company employees to deduct 36¢ per half calendar month from each employee and pay same to the Hospital Society.

The agreement was fruitful as a new wing was added to the hospital and opened on May 12, 1928, increasing the number of beds to 36. This addition was 80 x 30 feet and located to the east of the original wing, overlooking Mark Creek. In 1944 a three story brick building was constructed between the existing wings, further increasing the hospital’s capacity to 56 beds. This addition opened in 1945 on National Hospital Day, completely fire-proof and thus isolating the two older wings.

The Nurses’ Home was established in association with the McDougall Hospital, which was then expanded in 1938. Room, board and laundry were offered to the nurses. Nurse Rena Roskilly was quoted as saying:

“The pay was good compared to Alberta. I was making (1941) $75 a month plus room, board and laundry. We lived at the Nurses’ Home and ate at the hospital.”

This arrangement helped Kimberley to secure nurses even in times of staff shortage.

The Kimberley Hospital Society struggled with maintaining an up-to-date facility. It was a costly undertaking. In 1944, for instance the CM&S donated $6,000 to meet the Society’s overdraft on the understanding that this would be the last time. Finally on June 29, 1951, CM&S offered the Kimberley Hospital Society as a gift their equity in the Kimberley Hospital. The company gave the Society a cheque for $129,000 to enable the Society to purchase the company’s equity in the hospital lands and buildings, with formal transfer taking place on September 1st.

In 1955 the Selkirk Hospital Action Committee was established to investigate the financing and constructing of a new hospital facility. The new Kimberley & District Hospital was opened in 1961. it came in at a cost of $1,203,000 with the provincial government paying half of the cost. The Selkirk Hospital Improvement District was left with financing and capital costs of $957,000. Cominco paid approximately $607,000 of this by way of taxes. The Kimberley and District Hospital facility served the community well, and its closing is a whole other story which we will not tell here.

The Kimberley Hospital story is the story of a strong community that, in the end, took control of its own destiny. It demonstrates the strength that allowed Kimberley to shift from a single industry company town to a broader-based resort and resource community. Thanks to our partner, the Kimberley & District Heritage Society, for their assistance with the research for this particular page.

McDougall Memorial Hospital in Kimberley
McDougall Memorial Hospital at Kimberley, BC
McDougall Memorial Hospital, Kimberley
McDougall Memorial Hospital, Kimberley, BC.
Nurses' Residence, Kimberley
Nurses Residence, McDougall Memorial Hospital at Kimberley, BC.
McDougall Memorial Hospital Ward
Mr. McDougall is in a hospital bed with Dr. Peter Finch left at bedside. McDougall Memorial Hospital, Kimberley, BC.
Kimberley and District Hospital
Kimberley and District Hospital, women's names unknown.