Nursing in the Rockies:
Seton General Hospital, Jasper
is certainly one of the prettier settings for a hospital and perhaps it makes
convalescing easier, but the medical care still has to be given. The earliest
hospital in Jasper was a large tent on a wooden frame. There were only fifty
or so people in the town by about 1913, and they were being served by two
railway doctors coming from Pocohontas and Lucerne. Records also show that
an isolation hospital existed in the teens and twenties that dealt with a
flu epidemic in 1916 and scarlet fever a few years later.
took increasing tourism and the president of the CNR to get things moving.
After his tour of the West in the late 1920s, Sir Henry Thornton suggested
to the medical personnel of Jasper that they investigate the possibilities
of building a hospital. He put company money behind his suggestion and pledged
twenty-five thousand dollars towards the cost of building and an annual grant
of twenty-five hundred dollars towards its maintenance.
hospital, originally known as St. Martha's opened at the end of January 1930.
It was managed by four Sisters of Charity who came from Halifax. The name
of the hospital was changed to Seton in honour of the foundress of their
order. Operating the hospital was difficult in its early stages as the Depression
took hold. The reduced taxes and extra loads of wood from the federal government
were gratefully accepted.
grew, so did the hospital. A second floor and extension were added in 1952, and
another wing was added in 1964. Ownership had been turned over to the Sisters
of Charity in 1953, but with health care re-organization, it became part of Jasper
General Hospital District #87 in 1971. The following year the foundation was
laid for a new hospital and the patients were moved into the new building in
May of 1974. That new building was the winner of several architectural awards
for its unique design.