Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lakeridge Health Foundation
Lakeridge Health’s Oshawa Hospital, as it came to be known in 1998, was originally called Oshawa General Hospital. From the moment it began accepting patients in 1910, it was central to the burgeoning community. Today, it bears little resemblance to the two-storey house that started it all, but its significance to the area remains unchanged.
At the turn of the nineteenth century, a group of 60 women from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in the then-town of Oshawa — led by Adelaide McLaughlin, wife of wellknown industrialist Robert McLaughlin — banded together to raise money for a community project. There were three proposals on the table for funding: a business girls’ club, a YWCA and a hospital. Oshawa didn’t have a hospital, so the group voted to support this important undertaking. The Oshawa General Hospital Ladies’ Auxiliary was formed at this time, with a membership base of 90 women. They raised $1,000 initially, which was used to purchase the land for the hospital in 1907.
Three years later, the Auxiliary fundraised again, going door to door and raising the massive sum of $20,000 in a matter of weeks; this is the equivalent of close to $650,000 today. These funds were used to build a two-storey hospital (it looked more like a house than a healthcare centre) which was opened to the public in 1910. The hospital initially had 16 beds and a staff of 12 nurses and doctors, as well as being home to a three-year nursing school.
After opening its doors, the hospital experienced tremendous growth in a relatively short period of time. By 1918, the Pedlar Surgical Wing was added, followed by the McLaughlin Maternity Ward in 1923. (These additions allowed for the hospital to be officially classified as a general hospital, given the expansion of services that came with these renovations.) A third storey was added in 1924, but then the facilities remained the same until the early 1940s. Three new wings and a cafeteria were added between 1942 and 1962. A fourth wing was added in 1970. Countless services and programs were developed at the hospital, now a legacy for the McLaughlin family as well as the original Ladies’ Auxiliary.
For nearly 90 years, Oshawa General Hospital provided care under its original moniker. But in 1998, under direction from the provincial government, Oshawa General Hospital was amalgamated with three other facilities — Bowmanville Hospital, North Durham Health Services and Whitby General Hospital — and renamed Lakeridge Health. It’s now one of the largest hospital networks in Ontario, with a staff of more than 7,700 physicians, nurses, support staff and volunteers caring for more than 1,600 patients a day.
To think, the foundation for all of this was laid by a group of women knocking on doors, wanting to make a difference.
There are vast differences between our past and modern society — seen here is an early ambulance and hospital staff.