Sanatorium: developing hospital care in Banff
Dr. Robert Brett, a company
doctor for the Canadian Pacific Railway, established the Brett Sanatorium
and Hotel in the 1880s, in response to the discovery of the sulphur hot springs
in Banff. Their marvelous healing powers quickly became well-known throughout
the world and attracted many wealthy people to come and "take
the waters." The railway hospital treated workers and others above the billiard
hall. When the building was overflowing, heated tents were used and these also
came in handy for isolation wards when the epidemics of the time hit.
The story goes that Dr. Brett had a fire lit in one of these tents to house
a traveller with pneumonia and it wasn't until someone noticed a strange smell
in the area, that they discovered the poor man had been forgotten and had died.
Perhaps this spurred the concerned citizens to build a new hospital and the
subsequent school of nursing in 1909. Lectures were given to the student nurses
by the staff nurses and Dr. Brett and his son, Dr. Harry Brett whenever any
of them had the time, and the student nurses received a stipend of between
ten and twenty dollars a month.
As early as 1916, the Registered
Nurses Act required that the students receive experience in areas not necessarily
present at the Brett Hospital and they had to go to the Royal Alexandra Hospital
in Edmonton to complete their third year. The
School of Nursing in Banff closed in 1922. In 1915, Dr. Brett (Sr.) had already
left to become the Lieutenant Governor of the province; and by 1929, the Sisters
of St. Martha had bought the property. The hospital continued under the Sisters
and changed its name to the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital.