Place: Women's Hospital (Health Sciences Centre)
Address: 735 Notre Dame Avenue (map)
Architects: Northwood and Chivers, Moody Moore and Partners
In 1945 the province decided that the Winnipeg General Hospital (WGH) would be the focal point for Manitoba's future healthcare needs. New clinics, specialized hospitals, research centres and teaching facilities would be located adjacent to it.
The hospital's board hired architects Northwood and Chivers to draw up plans for the coming expansion. In January 1946 it announced that once government financing was available plans were in place for a number of additions and renovations to the general hospital and the construction of a new maternity hospital.
May 8, 1948, Winnipeg Free Press
The choice of a maternity hospital as the first new facility was not universally accepted. Some felt that the replacement of the aging Children's Hospital should be a priority. A public relations campaign, complete with full page newspaper ads, ran through 1948 but to no avail. The province approached the federal government to help fund a maternity hospital. (A new Children's Hospital came in the mid 1950s.)
Once the federal government recovered from its wartime spending, it set its sights on investing in the country's aging patchwork of hospitals. Under Paul Martin Sr., Minister of National Health and Welfare (1946 - 1957), they embarked on an ambitious plan to construct 40,000 new hospital beds across the country by 1953.
January 14, 1950, Winnipeg Free Press
Construction began in mid 1949. The five storey building would house 132 patient beds, which was 72 more than the WGH's maternity ward. There were room for 162 bassinets and a nursery on each floor. Every patient room featured its own washroom and air conditioning. The main floor had a large outpatient department staffed with dietitians and other support staff.
By January 1950 work was well on its way. A $250,000 fundraising drive began to help purchase furnishings and other equipment. Two of the larger donors were Canada Packers with $10,000 for lab equipment and Harry Ashdown with $5,000 for sterilizing equipment for baby bottles.
In April 1950 Grace Johnson was chosen to be the first director a the new hospital.
Johnson went to work at the WGH immediately after graduating from the U of M nursing school in 1934. In 1937 she became the head nurse of the WGH's maternity ward. She served overseas during World War II but before returning to Winnipeg stopped in Montreal to obtain her B.Sc from McGill.
April 28, 1950, Winnipeg Free Press
The official opening took place at 8 pm on Wednesday, April 26, 1950. It was followed by a weekend-long open house. A Free Press reporter who got a sneak peek two days earlier wrote:
The first thing that strikes a visitor is the gay color combination in the central rotunda. The huge archway gleams in mulberry splendor and the walls are a light lime green.
The timing worked out perfectly. Just days later, the first of hundreds of patients began arriving from southern Manitoba hospitals and personal care homes as the Red River Valley began to flood. The now-vacated maternity ward of the WGH offered refuge for many of them and the Maternity Pavilion's empty beds housed nurses that came with them.
In 1982 the hospital got an eight month, $3.5m renovation that included a new labour and delivery unit, (it was estimated that 123,000 babies had been born at the old one.) It appears that's also when the Pavilion was rechristened Women's Hospital.
In 2010 the Women's Hospital celebrated its 60th anniversary. May 2 - 8, 2010 was declared Women's Hospital Week by the provincial government.
In 2010 the province announced the construction of a new Women and Newborn Hospital at the Health Sciences Centre. The five storey, 280,000 square foot facility is currently under construction at the corner of William Avenue and Sherbrook Street. It is expected to open in 2014.