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Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost National Historic Site of Canada

Highway 648, Highlands East, Ontario, K0L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/06/30

Corner view of Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost, showing the front elevation, 2002.; Jayne Elliott, 2002.
Front elevation
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Other Name(s)

Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost National Historic Site of Canada
Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost
Dispensaire de la Croix Rouge de Wilberforce

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1914/01/01 to 1916/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/07/17

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Situated near the northeastern boundary of the village of Wilberforce, Ontario, Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost National Historic Site of Canada is a simple, rectangular, frame house with a truncated hipped roof, and an open porch protecting the main entrance. The white-painted Red Cross outpost stands on a quarter acre of land set back from the road and is flanked by two private residences. The rear of the property backs onto Dark Lake. Official recognition refers to the building on its legal lot.

Heritage Value

Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2002 because:
- it exemplifies the key role of outpost nurses in providing health care and health education in isolated posts of Canada;
- the Canadian Red Cross outpost program strengthened colonization efforts and demonstrated to the population and government the great need for medical services in isolated areas, thus aiding the development of the social welfare state; and,
- through the Wilberforce nursing station and other similar Red Cross outposts, knowledge about the operations and administration of the Canadian Red Cross outpost program spread worldwide.

The heritage value of this site, as illustrated by the building on its site, resides in its identity as the first outpost of the Ontario Division of the Canadian Red Cross that served the village and surrounding areas as a health centre and emergency hospital from 1922 to 1957. With limited funding at its disposal, the Red Cross rented an existing house that could accommodate a nurse as well as room for emergency cases and health education sessions. Over the years, the building and its lot have been slightly altered. It now serves as a museum of outpost nursing.

Here and elsewhere, dedicated women provided health education and badly needed nursing care with minimal medical backup, facilities and equipment, often travelling and working in difficult conditions. The Red Cross outpost program served as a model for health programs outside Canada, and aided the development of a government-supported health care system at home.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, December 2002.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:

- its location near the north-eastern boundary of Wilberforce;
- its siting back from the road;
- the simple domestic design of the house, including it two-storey, rectangular massing set under a truncated hipped-roof, wood-frame construction on a concrete foundation, its symmetrical three-bay façade with central entry and flanking windows, the presence of a porch protecting the main entrance, and the rear kitchen addition;
- the interior of the house as its surviving layout and finishes reflect the period between 1922 and 1957 when it was in use as a one-nurse outpost, notably the accommodation of both private and institutional spaces, including an office/clinic, two small ward rooms, sitting room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and storage area.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1922/01/01 to 1957/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

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




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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