Trish Summerhayes

Women’s Institute made it happen

Posted | 1 comment

I have just sold my private home care business after spending a lifetime nursing and caring for others. During that time I have also been a wife, a mother and a grandmother. I was a "ban the bomber" in London in the sixties and a part of the back to earth movement of the seventies here on Vancouver Island. These experiences have made me who I am. I am me. I am an Island Woman.

As a proud member of the Cedar Woman’s Institute it continues to astound me at the role the organisation has played into the fabric of the Canada we know today.

Seniors home care, care facilities,RV parks B &B, Churches, Brew pubs, craft breweries, vineyards, distilleries, Pets BC. Seniors 101, Island Voices promoting the products and services available for seniors on Vancouver Island. Seniors 101 lifeline. Snowbirds. Employment. Politics. Vancouver Island Now. Island woman magazine. Around the Island, Newsletters.Most people know little or nothing about the Woman’s Institute and its origins. The W.I. is a worldwide success story that was founded in Canada in 1897 by rural women as a vehicle to address serious health issues of the day.

Their vision and tenacity has played, ands continues to play, a huge role in the well being of children here on Vancouver Island today as can be seen in the wonderful article from the Times/Colonist below.

Please consider joining your Woman’s Institute to acknowledge and to support the efforts of Canadian woman past and present.

 

Patricia M. Summerhayes.
Publisher/Editor.
Island Woman Magazine.
islandwoman@shaw.ca

Further links: –
BC Woman’s Institute www.bcwi.ca
Canadian Woman’s Institute http://fwic.ca
Associated Country Women of the World www.acww.org.uk
Previous article re Cedar W.I. http://islandwoman.ca/retirement-gift

 

****************************************

 

Women’s Institute sparked B.C. facility devoted to kids.

It all started with the Women’s Institutes of British Columbia, which decided in 1922 that something needed to be done for the health of our children.

More specifically, using the terminology of the day, crippled children. The first priority was identified as a children’s hospital in Vancouver, and once the wheels were in motion on that project, thoughts turned to a solarium for children.

The idea was to create a place on Vancouver Island where the children could be treated, and could also benefit from natural healing through sunshine and plenty of play in the great outdoors.

The solarium proposal won the support of a who’s who of Victoria, and even caught the attention of members of the Royal Family. After some of the money that King George V gave to Canada to help crippled children made its way to Vancouver Island, organizers decided their new solarium would bear the name of Queen Alexandra.

The local drive for funds was led by Dr. Cyril Wace, who came to Victoria to work with the Invalid Soldiers’ Commission, the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-establishment and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

While in Victoria he introduced Red Cross workshops to Canada, and also expressed an interest in the health of children. He did a survey to find out how many children in British Columbia required hospital treatment, and then used his findings to start raising funds from business people and organizations.

His enthusiasm paid off, and several prominent people joined his campaign.

Francis Napier Denison, who had been handling weather observations in this area since 1898, was asked to decide on the most suitable site for a solarium, and chose a waterfront site at Mill Bay.

With a site chosen and money being raised, the project was moving ahead. On April 26, 1926, the Queen Alexandra Solarium for Crippled Children was incorporated, and serious fundraising began.

Over the next few months, much more money was raised from local organizations and individual donors from throughout Greater Victoria.

Lord Byng of Vimy, the governor general, and his wife came from Ottawa to turn the sod for the solarium. Walter Nichol, the outgoing lieutenant-governor, and his wife Josephine were the patrons of the project.

The solarium accepted its first patient on March 1, 1927. It was the first health facility dedicated to children in the province; the children’s hospital in Vancouver did not open until 1928.

Seniors home care, care facilities,RV parks B &B, Churches, Brew pubs, craft breweries, vineyards, distilleries, Pets BC. Seniors 101, Island Voices promoting the products and services available for seniors on Vancouver Island. Seniors 101 lifeline. Snowbirds. Employment. Politics. Vancouver Island Now. Island woman magazine. Around the Island, Newsletters.

The Queen Alexandra solarium in Mill Bay: It was the first health facility dedicated to children in the province.   Photograph By Times Colonist files

Wace was named the solarium’s medical superintendent, and served in that capacity until 1936.

At the solarium, diseases such as polio and tuberculosis were treated with an emphasis on the open air and the sun’s ultra-violet rays. Children were able to play on the beach when weather permitted.

“This is no ordinary hospital,” a Victoria Daily Times report said soon after the facility opened. “It is a gentle, loving home care in an up-to-date hospital setting.”

In the years that followed, more buildings were added at the Mill Bay site. The solarium remained there until August 1958, when it was replaced by a new facility on the former Holly Farm on Arbutus Road in Saanich.

“This is a hospital, a school and a home combined under one hospitable roof,” said Health Minister Eric Martin at the opening. “It is unique because it devotes itself to the care, treatment and rehabilitation of children from all over this great province.”

Seniors home care, care facilities,RV parks B &B, Churches, Brew pubs, craft breweries, vineyards, distilleries, Pets BC. Seniors 101, Island Voices promoting the products and services available for seniors on Vancouver Island. Seniors 101 lifeline. Snowbirds. Employment. Politics. Vancouver Island Now. Island woman magazine. Around the Island, Newsletters.The Queen Alexandra solarium in Mill Bay: It was the first health facility dedicated to children in the province.   Photograph By Times Colonist files

Only one of the original Mill Bay buildings remains — the former nurses’ residence is now a girls’ dormitory at Brentwood College, which took over the site in 1961.As the years passed, the facility was increasingly known as the Queen Alexandra Solarium, with the reference to crippled children omitted. The name of the solarium was officially changed in 1973, to the Queen Alexandra Hospital for Children, reflecting the growing awareness that a child was not defined by his or her illness.

Wace, who worked so hard to create the solarium and give it a healthy start, died in Saanich in 1966. To the end of his days he insisted that he did not deserve credit for the solarium, always reminding people that it would not have happened without the work of the Women’s Institutes.

© Copyright Times Colonist 

   Photographs By Times Colonist files

 

 

See all articles by

One Comment

  1. As a young member of the Ryder Lake Women’s Institute in the 1970’s I have a vivid memory of a visit to the Queen Alexandra Hospital. The children were cared for in a caring and loving manner. The facility appeared well equipped and organized with a staff who were trained for children who required special care. Thank you for this story.

Leave your comment to this article or add your own blog post below.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *