During the construction of the railway in 1914, a small house was used as a hospital for the Grand Trunk Pacific workers. This service was really only available for men. Mrs. Frank Armstrong and Mrs. Gleason would take ladies into their home to care for them. Those that were seriously injured or ill were put in a caboose and with an engine hitched to it, were taken to Prince George or Jasper. Homesteaders who lived out of town and did not have easy access to the tracks would generally care for themselves or get help from neighbours.
On January 9, 1938, the McBride Hospital of the Canadian Red Cross Society officially opened in a converted house. Within two years they had 12 beds in 2 large wards and a child’s pediatric ward, as well as their own X-ray machine. The roles of nurses and doctors has changed drastically since their emergence in McBride. Doctors would take and read their own X-rays and as many had been in the war, were used to dealing with pretty gruesome accidents. In early days nurses would do what they could and be expected to recognize their own limitations. Nurses, like teachers, were seen as quite eligible among the male dominated population and many married local men.
The Red Cross Hospital was taken over by the community in 1954 and became the McBride District Hospital. In 1963 it closed when it was replaced by the new hospital building. It later burned down.
Photo: Valley Museum and Archives