Saskatchewan Hospital (North Battleford)

The view from Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford could lend itself to the best hotels in the country - it overlooks the North Saskatchewan river and can boast an almost surreal prairie sunset scene. The building, its façade almost completely unchanged from its original (1914) form, once housed over one thousand psychiatric patients. The facility was largely self-contained, as patients tended a farm and vegetable patches as part of their therapy.

Much has changed since the building became a 178-bed general hospital. There is no longer a farm, but a large vegetable patch and wood workshop still provide therapy for some of the patients. Psychiatric nurses have played a large role in the history of Saskatchewan Hospital. They were some of the first staff and remain an integral part of hospital workings. Annie Sheldon was one of the first of these. She began working on staff in 1915 as a way to make ends meet while her husband was away at war. Sheldon's strong constitution and commitment to her patients was exemplified when the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919 killed 115 residents of the hospital and whittled the staff down to two members: Sheldon and the physician (Dr. MacNeill). "They wore masks and sprayed themselves with disinfectant. Luckily, they were able to protect themselves. They both existed on catnaps, not daring to leave the hospital in case their families were to become infected...These were the kinds of people that made up the first staff at the Saskatchewan Hospital--honest, hard-working, conscientious, loyal, trustworthy, courageous and God-fearing" (Kildaw, 28-29).