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A hospital built to remember 3 young men lost to war


5 minute read

Here is another in a series of 3 stories that bring perspective to our local military history. Michael Dawe explains the history of the Red Deer Memorial Hospital.

The origins of the Red Deer Hospital go back to the beginning of the last century. Great Britain and her colonies became embroiled in the Boer War in South Africa. A number of young men from Red Deer and area went overseas to fight for the Empire.

On July 1, 1900, 22-year old Angus Jenkins of Red Deer was killed near Watervaal when his outfit was ambushed by a group of Boers. He was the first Red Deer resident and the first member of the Lord Strathcona Horse to be killed in action. Shortly thereafter, the community learned of the death of Archibald McNichol. In September, word came that Charles Cruickshanks had been killed near Bad Fontein.

On October 21, 1900, a large public service was held at the Methodist Church in memory of these three young men. At a subsequent public meeting, it was decided to build a hospital as a permanent memorial to them.

Early in 1901, an eight-member hospital board was formed with George W. Greene, a local lawyer, as the first chair. A public fundraising campaign was launched.

The board was given the money which had been collected at the memorial service for the Patriotic Fund. By January 1902, $1100 in pledges had been collected in the community. Lord Strathcona sent a cheque for another $1000.

The Victorian Order of Nurses promised $2000 and donated the plans and specifications for a 13-bed facility. Later, the hospital board passed a resolution officially affiliating the hospital with the V.O.N.

Initially, the board wanted to build the hospital on a site on the north side of the river, east of the Gaetz Avenue traffic bridge. However, Edward Michener and John T. Moore offered generous financial assistance towards the purchase of property on the top of the South Hill. In the spring of 1903, work began on this site.

The pace of construction was slow. Work on the superstructure did not get underway until August. There was a continual shortage of funds. Town Council was asked for an exemption from taxes and either a donation of money or a loan. In response, Council offered to pay off, with a donation of labour, any debt left after the completion of construction.

Finally, in April 1904, the building was ready for occupancy. A member of the V.O.N., Miss Wright, was hired as matron with a salary of $50 per month. The hospital board set the admission fees for patients at $7 for public wards and $10 for private rooms. Patients were expected to supply their own medicines and surgical dressings.

The first patient, W.N. Snider, was admitted to the hospital with a case of typhoid fever on the same day that the matron arrived for work. He unfortunately suffered a relapse and passed away on July 7th. On April 25th, Dr. Henrietta Denovan, assisted by her husband Dr. Howard Denovan, performed the first surgical operation. On May 3rd, the hospital board established a fee schedule for the use of the operating room.

The Women’s Hospital Aid Society gave the hospital a tremendous boost in raising funds to furnish the building. In October 1904, a young women’s organization, the Alexandra Club, was formed to also support the hospital. One of their more successful fundraising ideas was the creation of women’s hockey teams, the Stars and the Skookums.

The hospital board raised additional funds by selling “admittance tickets” at a rate of $5 per year for individuals and $10 annually for families. Local businesses were offered this form of hospital insurance for their employees at a cost of $1 per month per person.

Red Deer, although still a small town of only 1000 residents, now had the only hospital between Calgary and Edmonton.

Read about our region’s connection to the Lord Strathcona’s Horse.

President Todayville Inc., Honorary Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, Board Member Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Foundation, Director Canadian Forces Liaison Council (Alberta) musician, photographer, former VP/GM CTV Edmonton.

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Fill those yellow bags to ease shortages at the Red Deer Food Bank

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Article submitted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Red Deer Food Bank is consistently running out of specific food items. On October 23, Red Deer residents in the north half of the city are invited to participate in a food drive to help feed hungry central Alberta families.

It’s not surprising that the Red Deer Food Bank is experiencing increased demand in the middle of a pandemic. While the food bank is doing a good job of meeting the needs of most users, there have been shortages in some food items. “We consistently run out of specific items like Kraft Dinner, canned beans and canned fruit,” explained Mitch Thomson, executive director of the Red Deer Food Bank. “We’ve been holding our own, but we’re consistently unable to provide those items. Forty percent of those served by the Red Deer Food Bank are children and comfort foods like macaroni and cheese is always in demand.” Other items that are always in demand include canned vegetables, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, and canned dinners like beefaroni and hearty soups. All food
donations are used and appreciated.

How COVID has Affected the Red Deer Food Bank

The citizens of Red Deer have been very supportive of the Red Deer Food Bank and that has allowed the food bank to meet the increased needs it has seen since the pandemic began. It’s important to note that the Red Deer Food Bank supports 23 other food banks. It’s the only food bank in central Alberta that is
open five days a week and users come from Red Deer as well as other locations in the region. COVID has also resulted in a decrease in the numbers of volunteers who can assist stocking shelves, assembling and handing out hampers, and sorting donated food.

What’s New at the Red Deer Food Bank

The Red Deer Food Bank is getting a more functional truck to transport food thanks to support from local donors. They’ve also moved bays, so that the warehouse area is now right next to the food bank.

A COVID-Friendly Food Drive

Food drives organized by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Red Deer have become an important way for the Red Deer Food Bank to stock its shelves. The upcoming food drive will involve additional precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Volunteers will drop off bags on the doorsteps of homes beginning on October 18 and then pick them up on October 23 without making any personal contact,” explained Allison Strate, Red Deer Stake Food Drive Coordinator. “The bags will then be transported to the church and be placed on a truck to go to the Red Deer Foodbank. All volunteers will be wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment. We are hoping it will all run smoothly. We believe we can safely run the spring food drive and with the help of local citizens collect much needed food for those in need.”

How to Participate in the Fall Food Drive

Bags will be delivered to the doorsteps of homes on the north side of the city the week of October 18 and they will be picked up on Saturday October 23 between 10 am and 12 noon and delivered to the Red Deer Food Bank.

All north-area residents are reminded to please support the food bank by leaving a food donation on their doorstep on Saturday, October 23. Anyone who does not get a yellow bag in their mailbox is welcome to bring donations to the Kentwood chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (8 Keast Way) between 10 am and noon on Saturday, October 23. Any community members or groups that would like to assist in delivering or picking up bags are welcome to contact Alison Strate, the Red Deer Stake Food Drive Coordinator at [email protected]

The Red Deer food drives are part of a series of food drives organized by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The food drive is a huge undertaking with hundreds of volunteers working together for a really important cause,” says Allison Strate, Red Deer Stake Food Drive Coordinator. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to provide an important service to families and individuals who need help from the Red Deer Food Bank to put food on their tables.”

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Central Alberta

Trevor’s Story: I Have Anxiety and Depression. Where Can I Get Help?

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Trevor has suffered from anxiety and depression for a while. He had no idea where or how to get help with this. In discussing this with his doctor, he was referred to a Mental Health Counselor at Red Deer Primary Care Network.

Trevor says, “I, the skeptic, didn’t expect that I would get much help but did decide to work with the counselor. I needed to do something. We had 6 sessions together. The counselor provided me with insight on things that should have been so obvious to me but they weren’t. You don’t know what you don’t know. The counselor provided me with very practical and valuable tools. I came away with a different, more positive way to think about things. And it was just great to have a non-judgmental person to listen to me. It is a relief to just be able to tell someone who was really listening about my struggles.

These sessions were so valuable. I am in a much better state than I was. My struggles are not over but I manage to get through each day using the tools and improved mindset that I learned.

If anyone else is struggling like me I recommend no matter if they think it won’t help  just go, go in with an open mind. Even if you just feel you need someone to talk to you will get valuable tools to help manage your situation.”

To learn more about the RDPCN programs, visit

Read more Success Stories from the Red Deer Primary Care Network.

Looking After Myself

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