Brantford hospital celebrates 125 years of history

It was a frigid February 10th when John H. Stratford commenced the grand opening of the John H. Stratford Hospital on Terrace Hill Street in Brantford. Snow had choked roadways and covered the landscape in a thick blanket of white. John Stratford, Dr. James Digby, and Mayor William Scarfe met Ontario lieutenant-governor John Beverley Robinson at the train station. The new building towered high, visible for miles. The shiny new hospital rested on one of five acres of snowy pastures. The institution’s namesake and founder addressed an eager audience of city citizens, businessmen and a few Brantford physicians. They hung onto his words as this citizen spoke of progress, of equipping Brantford with a way its people could now fight illness and combat death.

That was 125 years ago, in 1885.

Again, city dignitaries and citizens gathered, this time in 2010. Snow fell lightly and a horse drawn carriage waited on the grounds, part of a celebration to commemorate the birthday of one of Brantford’s most significant landmarks.

The grand Victorian building is now gone, replaced after years of renovations to accommodate medical advancement and the city’s demands. Much has changed in 125 years: a parking lot and new medical buildings replace sprawling lawns where sheep and cattle once wandered to keep grass short and pristine. Where the great Victorian building with glass corridors stood is now the towering Stratford Pavilion. Take a look at some of the other changes and events in the history

The “Brantford General Hospital”: A New Name

On February 2, 1910, the board of governors decided to make changes to the hospital: plans for expansion of the wings, as well as a name change. The hospital became the Brantford General Hospital after a vote amongst board members. Graham Stratford, the son of John H. Stratford, was on the board during this decision. It was decided that the new name would reflect the growing importance of the hospital.

The Building

The John H. Stratford Hospital’s main Victorian section was out of date by the late 1940’s. Although several new wing additions had been added in the 1930’s, the population boom in the late 40’s and 50’s demanded new resources and health care services.

1948: Terrace Pavilion created as a nurses’ residence. This later became the Brantford Health Unit.

1957: Queen Elizabeth Pavilion replaces “A” wing, an addition from the 1930’s and late 1920’s. It still stands on the corner of Terrace Hill and St. Paul’s Ave. This was designed for more beds, offices and, more importantly, the addition of x-ray machines, diet kitchens, and lab.

1959: John H. Stratford pavilion is constructed. This is the centermost section of the current hospital. The pavilion added 247 beds. The addition of the pavilion spurred the demolition of the remaining isolation building and the demolition of the original John H. Stratford Hospital. Where the original hospital once stood is now part of the parking garage, and, previously, the Nursing School.

1964: Brantford General Hospital creates School of Nursing and residence. This school was designed to train young men and women to enter the medical workforce as nurses. Students could live at the hospital and would study in the school section of the hospital as well as on-the-job training co-ops. This building is still located on St. Paul’s Ave. It is an apartment styled building and bridge way structure which once held the teaching theaters. The school was discontinued in the late 1980‘s to early 1990’s as nursing requirements changed. Now the wing is used for rooms and various departments. Also in 1964, the J. Mcintosh Tutt Pavilion was created. It was a nurses’ residence and was later renovated into an area specializing in mental health. The building is still located on St. Paul’s Ave. above the docking bay.

1967: Forbes Tower built and dedicated to a local man named Stan Forbes, a longstanding member of the BGH board. The structure is still located on the west side of the John H. Stratford Pavilion.

1985: Emergency area enlarged with a new covered entrance way. This prompted the demolition of the “B” Wing, another 1930’s addition. The entranceway was moved to its current location.

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