Gathering Memories

In the fall of 2010, the Galt Museum & Archives celebrated the Centennial of the 1910 historic Galt Hospital building which is an integral part of the Museum complex. The provincially designated historic building was opened as an addition to an existing hospital on September 1, 1910 by then Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier. It served as a hospital and nursing school until 1955 when the hospital operation and Nursing School moved to a new Regional Hospital. At that time the building was put into use as the Galt Rehabilitation Centre or Long Term Care facility until 1965. The building was then shared by the City of Lethbridge Health Unit and the Galt Museum and Archives during the years 1965 to the early 1980s. At that time, the entire building was turned over to the Galt Museum and Archives.

Many people who worked or were associated with the 1910 building still live in this area. We decided to gather stories from them through video taped interviews. We heard tales of nurses being frightened when they needed to go outside to the laundry in the middle of the night, how they feared and respected the doctors, and what it was like to give a patient a sponge bath for the first time. The Ladies Auxilliary for the Rehabilitation Centre raised funds for the organization, tutored young people in their school work, and brought in music to entertain the patients. The Health Unit staff shared stories of their work as they gave school children innoculations, examined restaurants for cleaniness, and sprayed areas to get rid of mosquitoes. The Museum and Archives folks had great fun telling stories about one another, reliving the development and changes in the museum, and honouring our 30 year veteran Archivist, Greg Ellis.

All the video taped stories gathered from people involved with the various service organizations housed in the historic Galt Hospital building will soon be added to the wealth of information in the Galt Archives and accessible for research. Peoples' stories and anecdotes enhance what we know about our past . They enrich our community memory.