KGH celebrates its 175th Anniversary

News / KGH History
By Peter Jeffrey

Community comes together to mark our major milestone

It's not every day a hospital in Canada turns 175 years old, so on September 25 Kingston General Hospital held a special event to mark our impressive anniversary. About 300 people gathered in Macdonald Memorial Park for guest speakers, a short video of historical photos, cake and refreshments and also to take part in a special commemorative photograph of everyone arranged into the shape of a giant '175'.

The festivities were sponsored by our partners Lovell Drugs, Honeywell and the Kingston Community Credit Union. Everyone at KGH was invited, as were many people from the community. Town Crier Chris Whyman kicked things off by reading a special City of Kingston Proclamation that traced our roots back to 1838 and the arrival of 20 wounded soldiers at our doors. From there, KGH went on to serve as a charity hospital and as the first Parliament Building of the Province of Canada. Over the years, we also became a training centre for nurses and other medical professionals and evolved into our role today as our region's leading centre for complex-acute and speciality care.

To help highlight our journey, guest speakers took to the stage to share their memories and thoughts about KGH. Katherine Connell Crothers' connection with KGH goes back much further than most. She was born here in 1923 and as a child used to walk through our halls every Sunday with her father Dr. Hendry Connell as he did his rounds. A career in healthcare then beckoned and she went on to graduate from the KGH School of Nursing in 1945 and worked as a nurse here for a time.

She later served as a President of the KGH Nurses' Alumnae Association and wrote a book called With Tender Loving Care-a story of The School of Nursing, Kingston General Hospital. Later, she worked as an educator and researcher in the Faculty of Medicine at Queen's University.

"It's thrilling to be participating in this milestone occasion," she said. "It is a mark of greatness to acknowledge successes throughout our history and KGH must not lose sight of the many we have had. Today is especially significant because we are all sharing in our hospitalís accomplishments."

Dr. Henry Dinsdale, a distinguished neurologist and Professor Emeritus at Queen's University, also spoke. He started as here as a student in 1949 and in 1955 began his junior internship, earning a salary of $60 per month. He later returned to join the medical staff in 1963.

"An anniversary is when we are reminded of the remarkable changes that take place over time," he said. "As we celebrate the past we need also look to the future and anticipate not only continued excellence in patient care but continued growth in the research contributions of its medical and nursing staff. Today, I'd like to recognize the contributions of all the workers at KGH over the years and to those who are making a difference today for the future."

Mayor Mark Gerretsen was also a guest speaker and he said KGH is making Kingston proud.

"I can tell you that in my interactions with other mayors and leaders around the province, people continually remark about the amazing work KGH is doing," he said.

Tom Buchanan, Chair of the KGH Board of Directors, then thanked the many people who have volunteered their time, expertise and philanthropy to KGH over the past 175 years, including members of our Auxiliary and even Sir John A. Macdonald who helped the hospital secure a 1,000£ grant back in 1855 and then became a Life Governor.

After the speeches, it was time to take the commemorative photo. Everyone put on a poncho in either white, blue or red, and were organized into the shape of a giant "175". KGH Communications Specialist and photographer Matthew Manor was lifted about 40 feet into the air on a skyjack to capture the image.

Then it was snack and refreshment time. Over 1,800 pieces of cake were handed out in cups at the event and then to staff in the Atrium.