Aftermath - The New Hospital

How did Smithers get its first hospital? 

Calls for a proper hospital in Smithers, which had begun soon after the town was established in 1913, grew louder and more insistent following the Spanish Flu of 1918. During the outbreak a temporary hospital had been established in the Smithers Public School, but this was not a long-term solution.

Guided by their new full time resident doctor, Dr. Hankinson, the citizens of Smithers set out to build themselves a hospital. The Bulkley Valley Hospital Society was established in 1920. An enthusiastic fundraising campaign began, with contributions coming in from Smithers residents, other people living in the district, and the provincial government. To save money and speed up the process it was decided to use an existing building rather than construct a new one. The Todd Building at the southwest corner of King Street and Second Avenue was selected as the location.

Location of Smithers Hospital.jpg

This bird's-eye view of Smithers, taken June 23rd 1915, shows the Todd Building (indicated with the red arrow) which later became Smithers' first hospital. Just to the left of it is St. James' Anglican Church (aka the 'Old Church'), which still stands today. (P4573, Bulkley Valley Museum Visual Records Collection.)

The Bulkley Valley Hospital officially opened on September 1st 1920 at a cost of $6000. Premier John Oliver was present for the event and had a very good impression of the facility: the Interior News notes that he "expressed genuine surprise at the scale of operations planned ... and at the pleasant atmosphere reflected in the surroundings." After the opening ceremony, the Ladies' Auxiliary held a tea at which a silver collection was taken up to support the hospital.

The new building could accommodate a dozen patients, and had an operating room, an office for Dr. Hankinson, a kitchen, and a dining area. This hospital would serve Smithers and the surrounding district until 1934, when a new building was built.

Both settler Canadians and Indigenous peoples received treatment at the Bulkley Valley Hospital. However, Indigenous health care in general continued to be of far lower quality, and receive much lower funding, than that given to settlers.

Photos and Newspaper Articles about the New Hospital:

Impact: The Flu in Smithers
Aftermath - The New Hospital