OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY HOSPITAL
Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital 1911 Building
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital in Castor is a three-storey building with a full basement. It is constructed on a "T" plan and has a cruciform roofline. The front (east) facade has a gable roof with dormers and is dominated by a prominent wooden veranda with a pediment roof surmounted by a cupola with a cross. The rear (west) wing features a gambrel roof with dormers. The building's exterior walls are brick with a stone and concrete foundation. A reconstructed fire escape is present on the north side of the building. A modern hospital, attached to this building, was constructed in the 1960s and was expanded in the 1990s. The Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital is located at 5402 - 47 Street and is on a slight rise overlooking the Town of Castor.
The heritage value of the Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital lies in its association with the provision of health care in rural Alberta, particularly by Roman Catholic religious orders. It is also a good example of small-town hospital architecture, albeit on a larger than usual scale.
Roman Catholic nursing orders played an important role in the establishment of medical services in Western Canada. The first nursing order to arrive in Alberta was the Sisters of Charity of the Hopital General, better know as the Grey Nuns, who arrived in Alberta in 1859. They were followed by other nursing orders, including: the Sisters of the Misericorde; the Sisters, Servants of Mary Immaculate; the Sisters of Charity of Providence of Montreal; the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul; the Sisters of Charity de Notre Dame d'Evron; and the Daughters of Wisdom. It quickly became apparent to these orders that dedicated facilities were necessary for the provision of effective healthcare and the nursing orders became key participants in the building and operation of hospitals. The healthcare provided by these orders was invaluable to the development of Western Canada's rural areas. With the founding of Alberta as a province in 1905, government began to play a larger role in the provision of healthcare, and the healthcare system gradually became more secular as the role of the nursing orders began to diminish, particularly in the later half of the twentieth-century.
In 1909, the Canadian Pacific Railway surveyed a townsite east of Stettler. This community was incorporated as the Town of Castor in 1910 with a population of 1,100. The town council offered inducements to the Daughters of Wisdom for the building of a hospital. Founded in France in 1703, the Daughters of Wisdom professed a mission of providing health care and education to the poor. In 1904, they had built an orphanage and a school in Red Deer. The Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital opened in 1911 after the arrival of six sisters. Over the hospital's first decade, it suffered from inadequate funding and overcrowding. However, after 1916, these pressures were gradually eased through increased government funding and by the opening of additional hospitals in towns further east. In the 1920s, the hospital was expanded with the completion of the west wing. The drought of the 1930s caused the area's population to stagnate, a condition from which it never fully recovered. The hospital remained relatively stable until the 1960s, when a modern extension was added to meet the changing medical needs of the area's populace. A lay administrator began operating the hospital in 1992. In 2003, the Alberta Catholic Health Corporation took over the facility, ending the Daughters of Wisdom's active involvement with the hospital.
Typical of an institutional building of this importance, the Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital is situated on a hill overlooking the town. Reflecting the buoyant optimism for Castor's future potential, the hospital was built on a large scale and in a manner that allowed future expansion. It was also designed to maximize usable space, as demonstrated by the overly large pediment and gambrel roofs which enclose a full third floor. Many architectural and design elements reflect the building's association with a Roman Catholic nursing order, including: the cross surmounting the cupola, the cruciform roof plan, and the interior niches for religious statues and icons. Other elements of its design, such as its wide corridors and doorways and the installation of an elevator, are indicative of its use as a hospital. Its numerous windows and the large front veranda also allow patients to benefit from natural light and fresh air, both deemed essential to patient recovery and general good health.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1781)
Key elements that define the heritage value of the Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital are exterior elements such as:
- rectangular layout, approximately 27 by 12 metres (90 feet by 40 feet);
- north/south orientation;
- centrally-located, two-tiered wooden veranda with pediment and railings supported by square posts;
- symmetrical fenestration pattern of window openings with radiating voussoirs and paired single windows in the veranda pediment;
- green-painted louvered cupola with white trim and columns, surmounted by a cross;
- exterior walls made of brick laid in a stretcher-bond pattern;
- stone plinth and stringcourses of local sandstone;
- pediment roof, carefully designed to allow a full third storey, supported by stick-frame construction with pony walls and collar ties;
- hipped roof dormers with paired double-hung windows.
1920s (West) Wing
- rectangular layout, approximately 15 by 9 metres (50 by 30 feet);
- east/west orientation;
- brick-clad exterior walls;
- hollow clay tile foundation;
- gambrel roof enclosing a full third storey;
- gable-roofed dormers with single windows;
- ground floor fenestration pattern of narrow windows with arched radiating voussoirs and brick lintels and the second floor fenestration pattern with wider windows.
- 5.5 metre southern extension of the 1911 portion of the building;
- pedimented roof with paired single windows;
- brick-clad exterior walls with stone stringcourses;
- poured-in-place concrete foundation;
- fenestration pattern of groupings of two and three windows;
- drop-siding-clad elevator machine room projecting from the roof;
- operational 1930s vintage Otis elevator.
Characteristics common to all parts of the building:
- location on a slight rise overlooking the Town of Castor;
- "T" shaped plan with a cruciform shaped roof plan;
- exterior walls of red brick, sandstone and concrete with white veranda and trimwork;
- austere exterior design with little ornamentation or detailing;
- original interior plaster walls;
- original interior woodwork such as baseboards, window and door trim, mouldings, newel posts and doors;
- numerous interior niches and stands for statuary and religious icons.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Building Social and Community Life
- Education and Social Well-Being
Function - Category and Type
- Health and Research
- Hospital or Other Health Care Institution
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1781)
Cross-Reference to Collection