Thursday, June 30, 2016

Collective Memories Roadtrip: Markland Cottage Hospital Stories

Markland Cottage Hospital, now home of Rodrigues Winery.
The Markland Cottage Hospital was designated by the Heritage Foundation in 2007 due to its historic and aesthetic value. The hospital was built in 1935 by the Commission of Government and was opened January 1, 1936. The hospital was one part of the government’s Land Settlement Scheme which intended to have families set up farms, raise animals, and build communities. It is also one of 19 cottage hospitals built across the province to serve rural communities. Although agriculture never caught on in the area the hospital remained in operation until it was phased out in the 1980s and officially closed in 1985 with the opening of a new clinic in nearby Whitbourne.
Former staff of the hospital.
On Friday June 24, 2016 the Cottage Hospital, which now operates as a Rodrigues Winery and Distillery, hosted a large group of former hospital staff. Everyone from nurse’s aides to administrative staff was in attendance. There were great stories told about the staff’s time in the hospital. Many nurses, aides, and other staff members lived on the second floor of the building. The Heritage Foundation staff was invited to attend the afternoon event by Lionel Rodrigues of Rodrigues Winery which now operate out of the former hospital.
Greeting old friends.
Michael, Andrea, Pei, and I arrived amidst a flurry of old friends. There were big hugs, loud greetings, and many smiles. It was great just to walk through the old building, see the photographs on the walls, and listen to the stories about the staff’s time in the building. We heard stories about the pranks the women played amongst themselves and even on RCMP officers, how and where the women would sneak out of the hospital to see boyfriends or go dancing in the evenings, which rooms were dormitories, where the kitchen and dining room were, and how many beds were found in the men’s and women’s wards.
Some of the interior decor includes old photographs, and hospital equipment.
One of the ICH Office’s newest projects is the Collective Memories project which aims to capture the stories of seniors and make them accessible to the public. This is the main reason I headed out to Markland – to hear some stories and talk with the former staff about the possibility of doing follow up interviews about their time working in the hospital. Andrea and I talked with several women and returned to the office with a long list of names and numbers. The stories from Markland’s Cottage Hospital would make an interesting collection so keep an eye on the blog for their stories as we follow up with the cottage hospital workers.
Hospital equipment on display.
If you would like to learn more about the designation check out the Heritage Foundation’s website, and if you want to see the hospital for yourself and enjoy a lovely wine tasting contact Rodrigues Winery! Thanks to Rodrigues Winery for the invitation and a big congrats on hosting such a lovely event.
Some of the former staff of the Markland Cottage Hospital.
~Terra Barrett

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