Imagine having to travel by horse and buggy to a boat landing and then a two-day steamer boat trip down the Fraser River to the New Westminster hospital or travelling by C.P.R. train from Agassiz. This was the reality for people living in Chilliwack in the early 1900s.

Ribbon from the first Tag Day, July 1, 1909. Gwen Goodey Collection

Thus, the need for a hospital was recognized in 1908 and fundraising efforts began with a minstrel show.

The women organized a sale of tags in July 1, 1909, the same as today when we buy bracelets or buttons in support of a cause.

They intend on Dominion Day to sell souvenir badges, to help swell their funds for the building of their new hospital. The idea that has suggested itself to them, is to procure ribbon, have it printed and for forty of the prettiest girls in the city and country to take turns selling them to the visitors to the city.

“Local”, Chilliwack Progress, June 9, 1909, 5.

Ribbons were sold for 25¢ ($6.08) and raised $222.45 – the equivalent of approximately $5410 in 2009 dollars.

Hospital Auxiliary is Formed
May 1, 1911, the Hospital Board called a meeting of the ladies of the valley to inform them that they would like them to form an Auxiliary. There were 38 women present and 4 members of the board.  It was moved that Miss Elva Grossman was to act as secretary. An executive committee of six was set plus the officers: Mrs. H Eckert, president; Mrs. G.H.W. Ashwell, 1st vice-president; Mrs. R.J. Douglas, 2nd vice-president and Mrs. M E. Hunter, treasurer. An annual fee of 50 cents was to be charged. It was decided that the meetings would be in the Oddfellows Hall starting at 3:00 on the second Monday of each month with the executive meeting if needed.

Chilliwack Museum and Archives ADD.MSS.781
Chilliwack Hospital in 1912 with First Matron Mrs. Johnson Wemp. Image courtesy of Chilliwack Museum and Archives ADD.MSS.781

The hospital officially opened, debt-free, February 28, 1912.

Read more about the history of the Auxiliary in Commitment to Caring: Chilliwack Hospital Auxillary’s 100 Years, 1911-2011, by Andrea Lister.

Conversion to current dollars is a rough calculation. First source: It took 1 Cdn dollar to buy 1 US dollar in 1913. Source: Lawrence H. Officer, “Exchange Rates Between the United States Dollar and Forty-one Currencies”, MeasuringWorth, 2009. (accessed March 22, 2010). Second source: In 2009, $1 US from 1909 was worth $24.30. Source: Lawrence H. Officer and Samuel H. Williamson, “Purchasing Power of Money in the United States from 1774 to 2010,” MeasuringWorth, 2009.

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1 Comment

  1. Hello:

    Clara Cartmell (husbands Aunt) often spoke of the debt free hospital and how the women in the community, including herself, took such pride in that fact.

    We are wondering where we can look at the book and perhaps purchase one.

    Thank you,

    Ruby Clegg

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