By Roberta Graves
In 1956, a group of six men – Don Mars, Gordon Trusler, Stan Halcro, Len Phillips, William Henzie and David Ainsworth – got together to see what was required to get a hospital built for 100 Mile House.
This process took 10 long years and much hard work and dedication and one major requirement was that the town needed to have two doctors.
There was one doctor in town, Dr. Harold Fischer, but another was needed, so Dr. Douglas Bilbey was recruited.
Before the construction of the hospital even commenced in 1965, a nurse’s residence was built, located where the present day Canadian Mental Health Association-South Cariboo unit is located.
It took from 1956 to 1965 to finally have a hospital built in 100 Mile House. Construction was started in September 1965 and the Grand Opening of the hospital was July 5, 1966 at 2 p.m., with more than 200 people attending. It was quite an accomplishment for the time.
Ladies from all over the area, Hendrix Lake Mine and Forest Grove to name a couple, decided that before the hospital was opened, a Ladies Auxiliary should be formed and advertised a meeting that was held at the 100 Community Hall on April 5, 1966.
There were 22 ladies present at this meeting and the first president, who was elected or appointed, was Mrs. Vi Patterson. It is interesting to note Mrs. Patterson was also on the hospital board.
A full slate of officers was elected. Two ladies who attended that initial meeting at the community hall were Mrs. Ann Sandburg, who had been a Ladies Auxiliary member since inception, and Mrs. Eleanor Shaw-McLaren who served for years, but had to take a leave of absence for a while, and now has been a member again for many years.
The Ladies Auxiliary thrived having at one point, 66 members, with 15 of them coming in all the way from Hendrix Lake.
The Ladies Auxiliary had its meetings for May and June in 1966 at the community hall until the hospital opened, and then the meetings were held in the evenings in the hospital board room.
The auxiliary ladies got started right away raising money for the hospital, so that when the doors opened, they were able to give three wheeled stretchers.
The ladies also proudly served tea following the opening ceremonies for the hospital.
The first major purchase was an “isolette” for the maternity ward, so the new mothers and babies did not have to travel to Williams Lake for special care.
The Candy Stripers group was also formed when the hospital opened with 22 girls. However, it is unclear at this time if the Ladies Auxiliary was involved with the Candy Stripers as they are today.
When the hospital opened, the Ladies Auxiliary had a cart with myriad goodies they took round to the wards three days a week. The cart was stored in the basement and had to be brought upstairs via the elevator or lift.
Over the years, the Ladies Auxiliary has raised many thousands of dollars with the cart, gift shop, pop machines, fundraisers, wine and cheese nights, fashion shows, tag days to name a few activities.
Members also looked after the local blood donor clinics when they were held in the hospital.
A complete list of items purchased by the Ladies Auxiliary is displayed on the wall outside the gift shop.
The Ladies Auxiliary continues to raise money for hospital equipment and we must keep doing so for the hospital if it is to continue to be the great hospital that we all know and love.
Roberta Graves is the Ladies Auxiliary’s historian.