Friday, 5 July 2013


          The science of medicine has got beyond the old salts and senna and cupping and bleeding stages in the treatment of disease. It was suffering enough to be sick without adding nauseous compounds to turn one’s stomach upside down. Not many years ago, smallpox, that most loathsome of disease, was considered almost certain death; but that day has passed and now doctors and nurses so well understand the treatment of small pox that death is a rare result. There was a time when tuberculosis was considered a family disease, handed down from one generation to another, from which there is no escape, but science has changed all this, and there is hope of cure if taken in the early stages. Fresh air and sunlight, the cheapest remedies that nature can furnish, and that are within the reach of all , are now depended upon by scientists more than medicine, and hundreds are restored to health who, a few years ago, would have been given up to die. Fancy the disgusting doses of cod liver oil and of medicine the poor consumptive was compelled to swallow, and compare the treatment prescribed today by Dr. Holbrook and his medical staff at the mountain sanatorium. If one must die from consumption, and there does not seem any necessity for it under the present scientific treatment, why not make it as gentle as possible? But science proves that the majority of cases can be alleviated, if not entirely cured.
          We have in mind a Hamilton printer who applied for admission to an Oddfellows’ lodge more than sixty years ago and was rejected by Dr. Ridley and Dr. O’Reilly because they discovered in him tendencies to consumption. The young printer’s father had died of consumption, and of course, he must go the same way. That printer is now in his eighty-fourth year, and healthy and strong for his years. The science of medicine has undergone some changes since then.


          Hamilton is blessed with a class of citizens ever ready and willing to make sacrifices to help their less fortunate neighbors, and it is not in words alone, but in deeds, that this is evidenced. As far back as memory will carry the oldest Hamiltonian, its hospitals and benevolent institutions have been the special care of the city, and no expense has been spared in the cost of buildings or in management. And the best of all is that the women and men interested in their management not only give their time, but their money without stint in carrying on these humane enterprises. There is no graft to induce the tightwads to enter into the spirit of giving in the hope that profit may come their way, for a stingy soul never gives where it cannot see some future profit in return. Hamilton ought to be proud of its benevolent institutions and of the men and women who sacrifice time and money to make them prosperous and a blessing. Go back to Hamilton’s first hospital built on the mountain side, a modest two story frame building, furnishing a home in sickness for the unfortunate without homes, and the small population made it its special care, benevolent men taking the responsibility of its management and providing for its financing where the town fell short; and then follow on down through all the year the advancement made till today no town in Canada can excel Hamilton’s present prospective hospital accommodations. The Catholic church is doing noble work for humanity in its splendid St. Joseph’s hospital, and the city at large never stands at expense for the care and comfort of the sick and those injured by accident. In time, and when the new hospital on the mountain top is completed, there will be ample accommodations for a population of twice the size of the present one. The board of hospital governors and its indefatigable chairman are instant in season and out of season in giving their time and business ability without expectation of any future preferment. Let Hamilton thank God for its generous share of men and women who were born with benevolent souls that can take into their keeping those less fortunate in the battle of life.
          It must have come as a Divine inspiration to a dear mother heart in Hamilton the necessity of special hospital privileges for that fatal disease, the white plague, for she planned for the building of the first hospital for its treatment. From that humble beginning, in which money was not spared in building or furnishings, has grown the present sanatorium. Two men who had made generous fortunes in Hamilton in business, beginning life in a humble way half a century ago, backed up the giving of that dear mother heart by presenting a farm on the mountain top as a thank offering for the blessings that had made them prosperous, and the result is the foundation of one of the greatest benevolences that will live for all future time, and stand as a monument for not only the founders but of the generous citizens of Hamilton who have responded liberally to every call made for money. The Hamilton sanatorium has been one of those benevolences that has appealed to the people of this generous-giving city, for what home is proof from that terrible scourge, the white plague?


          From the beginning of the sanatorium down to the present time its support has been somewhat precarious. It began as an individual benevolence promoted by a few generous men and women, backed up by private donations from the citizens of Hamilton at large, for no call was ever made for money that was not promptly responded to by the people. The association was fortunate in selecting for its directors men of liberal business ideas and public-spirited, who were willing to devote all the time necessary for its management, and better still a board of women whose hearts were warm for the affflicted. Unitedly have they worked together for one common object during the past  eight or ten years, and from a farm of about one hundred acres to start with have built up a sanatorium that today is in a measure bringing back to health and life nearly three hundred patients with the terrible white plague staring them in the face. A few years ago it was deemed almost beyond the hope of medical science to restore to health one of a tuberculous nature, while now it is looked upon almost a surety that if taken in time there is balm in Gilead to heal and restore to health. Talk with Dr. Holbrook, the surgeon of the sanatorium , and he will cheer the most despondent with the hope he holds out to those who have not put off till too late taking such treatment as the scientific men of the present day prescribe. With his own cheery nature, Dr. Holbrook inspires even the most despondent, and as he passes from one building to the other in his rounds of visits through the sanatorium grounds, the eyes of the patients brighten up as with a gleam of sunshine. And so it is with all the attaches in their intercourse with the sick, if they feel sad because of the sorrow that surrounds them, they keep a cheerful face and try to something to make the patients forget for the time the uncertainly of health and life.
          There is an average of three hundred patients to be housed, fed, provided with skillful, with medical attendants, and in many cases with clothing suitable to their condition. The expenses of such an institution counts up in the thousands of dollars every month with even the most economical management. The original farm has been reconstructed from plowed fields into streets, sidewalks, flower beds; in fact, into a model park where every prospect will brighten the lives of patients who at the best feel oppressed on account of disease. It was only a few short years ago that the land on which the sanatorium is located was virtually in a state of nature, without buildings or improvements. To change all this required large sums of money, and this had to be supplied by the generous men and women of Hamilton in sums ranging from a few dollars upward. And the people were not stingy in their giving, as can be evidenced by the substantial buildings that have been erected and the improvements made in a few short years.
          The Hamilton Health association was fortunate in its organization in enlisting the sympathies of a class of women and men with souls as well as pocketbooks, and in the selection of a board of directors that was not looking for profit or self-glorification, but were willing to devote their God-given talents for the benefit as a return for the hours and days they spend in managing the affairs of the institution. Here is a dozen or more busy men who are ready to answer the call of the president, leave their private business and meet together to plan to save and restore to health those afflicted with tuberculosis. Hamilton’s mountain sanatorium began in a small way. R. Tasker Steele was a generous soul in his lifetime, and was always planning some blessing for humanity. A family in whom he became interested was afflicted by two bright young daughters being stricken with tuberculosis, and this aroused his sympathies to the necessity of doing something for their relief. Money was needed to build and sustain sanatoriums, and he went around among his business friends and collected nearly $20,000 and sent it as Hamilton’s contribution to a hospital. This suggested to Mr. J. J. Evel, Mr. McMenemy and to Mrs. Robert Evans the idea that instead of sending Hamilton money to other institutions, why not build one in their own town, where there seemed a special need for one. To make a long story short, plans were started by Mr. Evel to do for humanity, and with the active sympathy of Mr. McMenemy, a house was rented on the mountain for the accommodation of the caretakers and a tent erected for two young girls who were afflicted with tuberculosis. Fresh air and proper nourishment, it was hoped, would effect a cure. That was the beginning of what in the past ten years has grown to be the present mountain sanatorium., where more than fifteen hundred patients have been treated, with a diminishing death rate each year. During the last year, there was an average of 317 patients in the hospital, with only a death rate of 21. During the past year more than 100 children have been treated, and of this number 39 were discharged as cured. The doctors say that if they can only get the children in the first stages of the disease it will only be a question of time till they hope to see the white plague stamped out. Mr. Evel and Officer McMenemy began a work for humanity in Hamilton that will call down the prayers and blessings of future generations.

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