Sunday, 10 May 2009

My Town Monday - Toronto General Hospital

[1- Toronto General Hospital in 1868 at Gerrard and Sumach Streets]

The York General Hospital was opened in 1829 to treat civilians, located at Simcoe and King Streets. Toronto’s first hospital had been a shed used during the War of 1812. When York became Toronto, the hospital became the Toronto General Hospital.

A Hospital Trust was started in 1847 to manage the hospital as over the years the hospital had been moved to different locations and into larger quarters.

In 1856 the Toronto General Hospital moved to a four acre site on Gerrard Street East between Sackville and Sumach Streets and north to Spruce Street. There were eighteen wards, with 400 beds, an operating theatre, an eye and ear infirmary and space for maternity cases. It was used for teaching medical students from three universities. Its school of Nursing was opened in 1861, the second such school in Canada. While this location served Toronto for nearly 60 years, there is little to see of it nowadays except for a Toronto Historical Board plaque on Spruce Street at Gifford Street, and some stones in neighbouring gardens.

[2-Toronto General Hospital 1891 Announcement Card - click to enlarge]

In 1913, the Toronto General Hospital moved to more spacious quarters on College Street, east of University Avenue. Over the years it has expanded south of this structure in other buildings along University Avenue to eventually fill the block bounded by College St., Gerrard St., University Avenue and Elizabeth Street.

The historic plaque on College Street reads: "This institution, the first general infirmary in Upper Canada, began operation in 1829. It was periodically hampered by administrative and financial difficulties but through the initiative of the influential businessman, Sir Joseph Flavelle, Chairman of its Board of Trustees (1904-21), services were reorganized and steps taken for the construction here of a new hospital. Designed by the firm of Darling & Pearson, it was begun in 1911 and officially opened two years later."

[3-Toronto General Hospital College Wing 1913 from behind showing the medical and surgical wings to the left and right, respectively - click to enlarge]

[4-Toronto General Hospital College Wing which is now the MARS Heritage Centre - click to enlarge]

[5-Toronto General Hospital at Main Entrance 1913 - click to enlarge]

[6-Toronto General Hospital - First Ambulance donated by Sir John Eaton in 1912 - click to enlarge]

[7-Toronto General Hospital at Gerrard Street - click to enlarge]

[8-Toronto General Hospital - interior public ward - click to enlarge]

[9-Toronto General Hospital - Interior Public Ward - click to enlarge]

[10-Toronto General Hospital opening ceremonies in 1913 - click to enlarge]

[11-Toronto General Hospital operating room in 1913 - click to enlarge]

[12-Toronto General Hospital Postcard in 1913 - click to enlarge]

[13-Toronto General Hospital grounds in 1920 - click to enlarge]

From 1913 to 2000, the MaRS Heritage Building was the 'College Wing' of the Toronto General Hospital. Both a world-class research institution and an architectural masterpiece in its time, it is a historically significant place for MaRS to inhabit.

[14-Toronto General Hospital College Wing in renovation in 2003 - click to enlarge]


Photo Credits: [1]-wikimedia, [2]-Vernon Dutton CC=nc-sa-flickr, [3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]-MaRs Discovery Distrct CC=nc-sa-flickr.

Travis Erwin from Amarillo, Texas is the founder of My Town Monday. For other locations to visit please go to Travis' site here.


Teresa said...

Those pictures certainly make me appreciate what we have with modern medicine. The wards look downright uncomfortable. Very interesting post, Barbara.

Clair D. said...

They just don't make them that cool looking anymore! I love old architecture.

Barbara Martin said...

Teresa, when I was about 4 or 5 I recall being in a children's ward not very different than those presented in the photos. The only difference is there were screens between the beds for privacy; and being younger than 6 there were two long rows of cribs.

Clair, if you come to Toronto you can see the College Wing if you need a dose of historic.

debra said...

There appear to be sleeping porches on the buildings. Fresh air was a cure for many things. I love your historical posts, Barbara. Thanks.

RuneE said...

You presentation gave me a feeling of time passing by. Maybe since we all have a certain uncertain feeling about hospitals.

But I loved that picture of the ambulance!

Reader Wil said...

Very interesting historical post, Barbara! You have a great set of photos! Thanks for sharing this building and its history! Have a great week.

Barbara Martin said...

Debra, science made breakthroughs at the turn of the last century.

RuneE, I understand your feeling about hospitals as I spent the better part of my early childhood in them.

Wil, I'm glad you liked it.

Travis Erwin said...

Great history as always.

And yes fishing was excellent. Caught a ton of fish and had a great time.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Lovely outside, grim inside.

laughingwolf said...

thx barbara... in all my years in toronto/scarboro, i only ever used st. mike's and scarboro general

Barbara Martin said...

Travis, then I expect there to be a post about your catches.

Patti, I've never thought the insides of hospitals as grim.

Tony, the two experiences I had with TGH were less than stellar.

laughingwolf said...

i applied for a job with connaught labs [part of tgh at the time] but they would not take me cuz i was hesitant about killing mice...

debra said...

My mother had rheumatic fever as a child and spent a year in the hospital. She often talked about the sleeping porches, how her parents could only visit one day a week, and how she had to learn to walk all over again.

Jenn Jilks said...

Interesting post, Barbara, especially in the light of the current hospital situation. They are trying to close rural hospitals, which makes it difficult for those without transportation and family to drive them.

The new Ontario Health legislation doesn't look too promising, either.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that they tore down the old Bell wing in 2001 since it looked very much like the old College wing. See

Barbara Martin said...

Anonymous, thank you for providing this information on the bell wing.

Guila Greer said...

Thank you very much for the history and photos of TGH. I have such vivid memories of my days as a student nurse there in the mid sixties - especially of time spent on the College Street wards. By that time, as I recall, the open porches had been enclosed. Otherwise it looked pretty much the same - same iron beds. What memories!
Guila Greer
Tarzana, CA
Guila Lewis TGH Class of 1865