Grey Nuns begin one of the first facilities in Calgary, the Holy Cross Hospital

Four Grey Nuns sisters arrived in Calgary at two o'clock of a cold January morning. They and their escort, Father Leduc, walked in the snow and darkness from the train station to the residence of another order seeking lodging. There was not enough room for them to stay, so after a brief rest, a snack and a celebration of the mass, they moved on to the building that was to be their hospital.

After finding second-hand furniture and equipment, they accepted their first patient in April. The little four-bed hospital was often overcrowded and the sisters would sleep on the floor or in the cold attic, so that patients could have their beds. A new building was definitely needed and a site was chosen in 1892 on the banks of the Elbow River. The land was donated by the Oblate fathers, who also donated the bricks for the building.

The Grey Nuns' work was not just within the walls of the new building. Before it was completed, a measles epidemic had required the isolation of many patients--the city set them up in tents and then asked the Grey Nuns if they would look after them there. This they did, of course going into quarantine themselves.

Holy Cross Hospital was ready for partial occupancy by November of 1892 and generous grants in terms of telephone service and electricity, they were able to continue their work.

The epidemics were the worst times and they often had to sleep on the attic floor of even this new building to accommodate more patients. After the measles epidemic of 1892, diphtheria broke out in the following two summers. More sisters came from Montreal to help, but they all had their hands full. Typhoid and diphtheria epidemics (and even smallpox in 1908) continued to plague Calgary's early years, culminating in the horrendous Spanish flu epidemic at the end of the Great War. The Grey Nuns worked tirelessly throughout all of these, even managing to feed many of the hungry poor who knocked on their hospital door, knowing they wouldn't be turned away.