Submitted by Ross Haworth
Special to the Pioneer
With a pandemic continuing to spread across the globe and dominating the international conversation, residents of the Columbia Valley are becoming increasingly conscious of our hospital systems. The first discussion of a hospital in the region was in late 1899 when it was decided by some concerned citizens that a place where the injured could be cared for was dearly needed.
A subscription list was written up where a person could write their name and donation. These donations went to a “small Emergency Hospital, to become the property of the inhabitants of Peterborough [Wilmer], but to be open to all comers excepting only infectious or contagious patients.”
Donations ranged from five dollars to a hundred dollars in lumber, with one man even offering two days of work. Named Windermere District Hospital the building was constructed in 1900. The building was the valley’s hospital for eleven years during which Dr. Elliot and Dr. Hanington served the sick and injured. In 1911 it was decided that the building was inadequate and so it was moved to the Union Hotel.
Looking back we can see historically how our community has stayed strong in difficult times.
Jean McMartin Weir came to Wilmer from Ireland to work as a nurse. She wrote of an experience treating a hunting accident: “The patient’s neck and shoulders were riddled with shot. That case let me know how kind the people in the valley were. A man phoned from Athalmer that evening and asked, “How is Chris Rawlas?” I told him the doctor was quite pleased with how he was after the shock. The man said that there was to be a dance in Athalmer that night, but if Chris had been in a serious state the dance was to be postponed.”
We can look back on that story and be proud of our community’s togetherness. In this time of crisis we need to act in a way that people will be able to look back on in a hundred years with pride. We need to act with neighbourly compassion for those around us, even if we have to postpone a few dances.
About the author: Ross Haworth is a student at DTSS who has an interest in writing and local history. Writing a little about the local history allows Ross to record what he knows while polishing his writing skills.