Salt Spring Island Archives

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History of the Lady Minto Gulf Islands Auxiliary and the Sunshine Guild

Sue Mouat and Ethel Davidson

Accession Number Interviewer Sue Mouat
Date Location
Media cassette tape Audio CD mp3 √
ID 108 Duration 26:41 min.




Unknown Speaker 0:01
The history of the lady mento Gulf Islands ancillary officially began in 1936. Unofficially, it began before the hospital was even built in 1914. The Gilda sunshine was the forerunner of the exhilarate on the first organization to begin fundraising for the hospital. The gills history is closely associated with that of the lady mental hospital until the gills books were closed in 1966. Long before the Cottage Hospital was built, the need for such an institution was obvious to the people on the island. In the early days of this century, the roads were almost impassable steep, rough, narrow, and prone to windfalls. And recovery from disease and accidents at that time was much more drawn out than it is today and required more home visits from a doctor. Telephone Service at that time was very limited. There was a single line from bitten courts down to Rogers and Fulford with a branch line to Dr. Baker, 13 miles of wire and all. When Dr. Lionel beach came to the island in 1904, there were no cars on the island, and traveling from Ganges to patients at Beaver point, or Isabella point or the north end, either on horseback or was pony and trap. You treated the sick and Canvas the residents to establish a hospital building fund. He bought a house with eight acres of land on Ganges hill. It had been the original Bittencourt store and Ganges as a cross and was across from what is now the ambulance building. Dr. Beech actually picked up two rooms in his house when he built for patients so that he could care for them more readily. Under the eight acres that he bought, he donated one of them as a site for the lady men from his hospital. One day in 1911, some ladies were having afternoon tea was Mrs. Dean. Now she was the wife of the Methodist minister in those days. These ladies discussed the lack of any social services on the island and decided to do something about it. They organized a group and their aims were to help each other our neighbors and our institutions to brighten other lives and bring sunshine to all. Now just a little aside about the deans. They came to Salt Spring after meeting Mrs. Jane Mose in Calgary when she was nursing her son Jerry, and many of you will remember Miss Helen Dean, their daughter. For a number of years she lived in that little house behind mode store in front of the travel shop. And the Dean road on Ganges Hill has named for them they lived up there. The fledging group of ladies call themselves a guild of sunshine and they immediately through their efforts behind Dr. Beech and started fundraising for the hospital. When the six bed hospital opened in 1914, the guild had already donated $600 to the building fund, a very large sum for those days. When the hospital opened, it was debt free. The Guild had raised their money by the Czar's T's and by catering. Much of their money was raised by sit down dinners which there were served at the annual agricultural fairs and at the annual Flower Show. And that was included in the 57 submission I may say the dedicated band of Ireland women continued supporting the hospitals to the tragic years of two world wars and a long wearing depression. A fundraising Daffodil tea was held by the sunshine guild every year from 1921 until 1966, usually at the home of Mrs. Gilbert mo what I mean by road. And the guild through its fundraising donated $25 a year to the hospital all through the Depression. And during that period, they also purchased a cookstove and a sewing machine. As well as this the guild often helped pay medical costs for those who could least afford it. And they also furnished the children's ward the new hospital and it was built in 1957. The IOD II was also very active in raising money for the hospital and numerous donations by this group are recorded in the hospital board minutes. An interesting IOD posters hanging up now and most small. It hung for many years apparently in the trading company office. And Mrs. GB young rescued it took it home. And after her death her son Garnet gave it to Joyce Parsons the IoD II and when Joyce left the island last year, she gave it to Tom Toynbee so it can be left in a public place where we could all see it and enjoy it. Although the women at the island were actively helping the hospitals to the guild and other organizations, it wasn't till 1920 that the hospital board minute To record that the Secretary be instructed to write to all women's organizations on the island to form an auxilary. The group would then work with the hospitals House committee. Nothing seems to have come of that suggestion at the time and 10 years later in 1930. The board minutes mentioned that the auxilary had organized the New Year's dance, and the motion was passed with the auxilary meet more often. Several early articles in the Sydney and Gulf Islands review use the words hospital ancillary. And in 1933, the hospital board minutes record, the annual hospital shower was left in the hands of the jury. And I think this early auxilary was probably an ad hoc committee made up of the board members or board members wives. This group organized an annual fundraising dance every New Years, a tag day and the hospital shower. Although the board executives were almost always man up until the late 40s, about half the board members were women. At the December 1935 board meeting Mrs. Spoons and Mrs. MB mullet reported on the BC hospital convention, and in their report spoke on the benefits of a hospital auxilary Mrs. Molot suggested the visit the existing auxilary be enlarged and meet once a month. A chairman who suggested Mr. Page proposed and Mrs. Purdy seconded that the House Committee proceed to reorganize the president exhilarated by calling a public meeting for the purpose. This motion was carried. On May the 13th 1936 the Sydney review reported that the hospital has already met Mrs. WMO its house was President Mr. GJ Mo and the chair and 15 members present. Sewing and mending was done. And miscellaneous hospital shower was discussed. And Mr. GJ Mowat and matron Miss M. Ross. Where does it receive the guests? Key in decorating committee? Mrs. Wm Mowat, Mrs. Royal Mr. Charlie Bettis and Mrs. MB most. The newly organized group was often running from the Annual General Meeting Minutes of the hospital in January 1937. Like, quote, the following. This community is to be congratulated for the help the hospitals receive from the newly organized hospital auxilary and thanks are due to the guild of sunshine, IOD II and institutes and other organizations for the very greatest distance given and keeping up the furnishings of the hospital and approach. In 1938. The auxilary asked if they could have a space in the hospital basement partitioned off and a room was finished below the operating room. And this is where the women set up their sewing machines and ironing board. All the hospital linens were repaired their sheets during laundry bags repaired, tape sewn on gowns. And as the matron asked for operating room gowns or master pajamas or diapers they were all made their board meetings were also held down there and in 1933. The first well baby clinics on Saltspring was held downstairs. Soon after the hospital was built. The board's House committee started an annual pound day, we're out unders donated a pound of anything they could afford to get. Later in line with other BC hospitals the event became known as hospital day. And it was always held in early May. As well as bringing gifts to the hospital and having a very elegant tea. People could leave their articles at notes, or at the Trading Company were bins were left for gifts and there was a list posted that tell you what the hospital would like. And in this way, the hospital acquired many of the staples for the rest of the year. We get so sugar and flour and all kinds of things. The old issues of the Sydney and Gulf Islands review make fascinating reading each gift whether it was a jar of jam or a pair of pajamas or 100 pounds of sugar is recorded and the name of the donor beside it. And this would be a couple of columns in the paper. I especially remember hospital in 1946. As a nurse on staff I was taken under the wing of the president who was then Mrs. WMO, who is welcoming guests at the door with matron Beth Peterson. Mrs. Molot son Ivan drove my brother's truck up to the hospital with all the donations which have been left. She introduced us that day and we were married that phone.

Unknown Speaker 9:28
I had hoped to tell you a little about the wonderful hospital rummage sales they used to have in the 50s and the 60s. They were just an incredible event. Everybody just bought boxes and boxes and stuff. But sad to say Ethel and I were looking around for our old scrapbooks in the hospital. exhilarate has kept scrapbooks for many years and they were very complete. They seem to have vanished into thin air. But I was talking to Kay booth this morning. was a past president of that time. And after these women and their husbands to work their hearts out sorting all this stuff out man Hall and getting it up on racks, they would have a party after. And you were only allowed to the party if you wore something that you'd bought at the rummage sale. And neither brown husband buzz apparently bought host down one time coming as a ballerina complete with two to those are no every all the prizes given for the best costumes are also taken from the rummage sale. These proof so successful and they had so much stuff turned in that they're often wasn't room to put it all out. So for two or three afternoons a week for a couple of summers, the ladies would sell stuff in that little store that was Graham shows antique store right across from the Ganges Village Market. And I believe according to K This was largely at the initiative of neither Brown. And that really was the forerunner of the prisons thrift shop. Not only could Ethel and I not find the scrapbooks, I went to the basement of the hospital, and our minutes only go back to 1981. So if anybody knows anybody that might have either old hospital auxilary minutes, or the scrap, but we would love to find them. And another thing which is missing are all the minute books from The Guild of sunshine, which is really very sad. And I really think that's all I have to say if you can tell us now how many hours of great work is done at the present time?

Unknown Speaker 11:43
Well, what I'm wanting to say is, it's the day to day working of the lady mental golf islands hospital auxilary. And we do work. I'm just going to give you a rundown of what we do. And what we donate. First of all, we give to 1000 bursaries, to the graduates of our high school, they most likely are going into some medical, they don't have to state it but it's either nurse or the lab or whatever it is. And we we started out by giving I think it was $500. And then we went to 750. And then we gave to 750. And then things got sold the 750 didn't buy much. So now we're up to 1000. And we give those each year. And sometimes we get a person who has received it will write and tell us all through their year what they are doing at university. It's just really wonderful and very satisfying to know that you really are helping them. And then we donate $3,000 to the Lions Club for the upkeep of their bus, because Greenwoods and the hospital certainly use it a lot. And it gives them a lot of pleasure when they're able to go out for rides and Greenwoods take them out for afternoon tea. Sometimes they take them to the pub. And I should tell you that I think it was last week. The Extended Care some of them that wish to go went to the strippers at Harbor house and they had a ball

Unknown Speaker 14:04
of course we give equipment to the hospital which is one of our main thing. Our monies can only be used for the wealth for the welfare and the goodness of the residents and the patients in the hospital. We are not allowed our Constitution does not allow us to donate to any other thing like when the hot when this hall was being renovated and they asked for a donation. Well wonder what to do. So what they did was they provided the ramp outside because then the wheelchairs can come in if there is something that they want to see which is really marvelous

Unknown Speaker 14:57
from 1990 To march 1991 And this is only the hospital not been once we donated $68,453.57 for equipment. We also sponsor the junior volunteers and their and their conventions. We give great gifts, Christmas gifts to all the residents of the hospital and Greenwood's. And we make, we have ladies to make tray favors. And that is 50 trade favors for the hospital right through the hospital for really special days. And it really does brighten their trays up. You know, like it's gonna be Valentine's Day, Valentine's Day we'll get some little special thing that new babies think of him and do and there's a lot of work. And then each week, one of the zillions make a cake, a homemade cake and takes it to extended care. That is so they will have something home made and not institutional all the time. And that is really nice. They enjoy those things. We give a gift for the first New Year's Baby, which sometime one time didn't arrive to the 27th of January. We have volunteers for teen coffee in the morning and the afternoon, five days a week in extended care. Now these ladies also visit and enjoy the residents and they enjoy them the volunteer hours for 1991 were 31,016 That's a lot of volunteer hours the ancillary give and so you can see it's not just one meeting a month. It's every day in the month they are working

Unknown Speaker 17:31
the volunteer hours for the hospital. And and Greenwood's. Was was 3865. And the the balance of that 31,000 that I told you about was from the thrift shop. And the people who knit for our showcase in the hospital not all the baby coats and sweaters and so on. And they make up the rest of those, you know, it takes quite a while to knit a little baby's outfit. Sometimes in every case, somebody comes along and buys sets at the showcase, though there isn't anybody there all the time. We do spend a lot of time doing. But the girls in the office are to be really thanked because they're the ones that look after we make about $4,000 approximately for the case for the auxilary every year. Well that's what we made last year in the year before and the main source of money comes from the thrift shop. The dedication of the volunteers is fantastic. The community also plays a big part without your discards and they are somebody else's treasures. With the money would not be there. I hope that you will keep in mind when you're discarding items that you do not need. Remember the thrift shop I'm very sorry to say we can't accept furniture. We do not have any room. I had I brought a picture here. And it's from 1936 It's 50 years 1936 to 1986. It was made by Guang Rocco and each one you will see at the beginning of the blog and how much money we all need to come up to the top and I think it's around $40,000 there. We made just a little over Have $50,000 Last year I think the figure Greenwood's and the hospital equipment that was given according to our books for 1991 was $223,120. That's a lot of money that is made, you know, buys just selling. It's sometimes just the five and 10 cent things really add up. I hope this has been of some interest to what the auxilary is on the boat. The exemplary meets every fourth Monday in Ganges United Church at 2pm. And new members are always welcome. We have about 125 to 150. I just just if you haven't been lately to see the hospitals showcase, I hope you will go we now have people now know that the showcases has nice things for sale, we have no GST because we're all donated, we buy the wool, and then we give it to the people who wish to knit. And now we are having people who are visiting the hospital with just come up to buy their baby clothes and things for their presents from the hospital. So please keep it in mind. You know, every little penny helps. So I'm glad that su could give you the beginning of it. And I'm trying to do part of the work. And I think that's all I can say this is this is a picture that lives in the annual hospital the last annual meeting and it says here that the hospital gave us the 68,000 then hospital receive 68,453 67 And then it tells you all the things that they had they had a monitor and UMass pimatic Turn the key urology equipment IV infusion pump. O R X ray table Tom Otto diluter for the marquetry called laser for Dizzy physiotherapy. And for our washer, we wondered about the foam washer. They didn't get it very easy, I'll tell you we discussed plenty, but then we found out that it made so much difference in cleaning the wards that we decided well, we would find the floor washer and it has been a blessing and then they have a film processor. Now that was just in one year. So you know we do a lot and this next meeting the the the administrating, Vicky purchase is going to come and she brings what we call her wish list. And she tells us all the things that the hospital needs, what the government will help with but we will we always pick out something that we are able to buy ourselves. So as soon as it gets to the hospital and they have the invoice we go and pay for it. I hope you've enjoyed Sue's talk because hers is really interesting. Mine is done. Thank you very much for listening

Unknown Speaker 24:15
Oh yes, I see your name a lot. I have all the board minutes from 1920 to 1945. And unfortunately again, the first board minutes from 1914 to 1920 are missing which is too bad.

Unknown Speaker 24:29
Also we give them we always make a special cake for hospital day for the staff that you know represents Florence Nightingale's birthday, and we always have a big cake made for them and put down in their lunch room.

Unknown Speaker 24:46
Find a membership of the hospital utility rate has gone up in proportion to the rise in population over the Oh yes, yes,

Unknown Speaker 24:56
we had. I think it was three or four Our new members last again each each week. But you gotta remember too that a lot of us are getting older and cannot work. And you know, sometimes do not turn out. But even we're getting older. They've really done great work because we've been will soon be celebrating the 75th. So that's quite a time

Unknown Speaker 25:29
thank you very much for speaking. Absolutely fascinating. I feel that although you said it was mainly a mental hospital, I think it's my Vancouver general when you see the size of the fingers of ours and money that you can raise, I really think it's a problem. Thank you both very much.

Unknown Speaker 25:48
I would like to say when the sheet comes out for the provincial or when we go we always go to the conferences we send two or three people to the conferences. They cannot get over how much money we make for the sides of us there are other bigger but they are bigger hospitals and how many hours we put in. We really are working your salary if you join the auxilary that Cid you do some kind of work and you have your choice to come where you want. Some, some camp, take extended care. Some only want to knit some don't mind making cakes doesn't matter what gifts. It takes everybody to make it go