Shaughnessy Hospital – dedication and innovation in war and peace

For over 75 years, Vancouver’s Shaughnessy Hospital served veterans and civilians of British Columbia, providing medical care and rehabilitation services, and becoming a research and teaching centre. Library and Archives Canada’s photos and other records of the hospital document this evolving role, with images including patient care and rehabilitation, buildings and equipment, and staff and volunteers.

The hospital opened in 1917 as a convalescent home for First World War veterans. By 1919 it had increased its capacity for medical services and patient care to become a military hospital.

A black-and-white photograph of uniformed men and nurses seated in front of an elaborate Elizabethan entrance.

Original staff of Shaughnessy Military Hospital – [1919?], copied 1952 (MIKAN 4826816)

In 1941, a new 250-bed main hospital building opened, the first such hospital to be built by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Other facilities and additions were later constructed over the course of the hospital’s history.

A black-and-white aerial view of a building complex.

Shaughnessy hospital buildings 1944 aerial (MIKAN 4841009)

In 1947 the George Derby Health and Occupational Centre opened in Burnaby to provide long-term intermediate care and rehabilitation services for veterans.

A black-and-white photograph of a construction site showing wooden forms and supports.

Burnaby Convalescent Camp [George Derby Centre] construction – administration building in foreground, treatment building at rear February 19, 1946 (MIKAN 4840921)

Generally, the hospital provided ambulatory care, general acute care, intermediate and extended care, and rehabilitation services for veterans.

A black-and-white photograph of a man using a hammer with his prosthesis to build and assemble two pieces of wood.

A.J. Grieg amputee therapy, January 28, 1946 (MIKAN 4828557)

The hospital was also a popular destination for many celebrities, officials, entertainers, and royalty, who often went out of their way to visit patients when in Vancouver.

A black-and-white photograph mounted on a piece of a paper showing three men arm-in-arm around a mic. The photo is captioned.

Danny Kaye visit, November 12, 1952 (MIKAN 4840882)

The Shaughnessy Hospital Ladies’ Auxiliary and other charitable groups raised funds for equipment and supplies, and organized social events and entertainment.

A black-and-white photograph showing a large group of women and a single man around a pool table, some of them leaning over the table and aiming at the cue ball with cues. The photo is captioned.

Presentation of the pool cues donated by Silver Cross Mothers (Air Force), May 8, 1953 (MIKAN 4840882)

LAC’s records of Shaughnessy Hospital  consist primarily of photographs, as well as a small amount of other material. The hospital maintained its own photographic department, which allowed them to capture images of daily life and events at Shaughnessy, including images of staff, therapy techniques, tools and technology for the disabled, and patient recreation programs.

A black-and-white photograph showing seven men in wheelchairs playing a ball game around a hockey-type net.

Paraplegics’ ball game on roof, August 1, 1947 (MIKAN 4840889)

By the 1960s and 1970s, Shaughnessy staff began treating civilian patients in ever increasing numbers. In 1974, the hospital was sold to the province of British Columbia for $1. On February 15, 1993, the provincial government announced the closure of Shaughnessy Hospital, with its functions being divided and transferred to other Vancouver area hospitals.

One thought on “Shaughnessy Hospital – dedication and innovation in war and peace

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s