While people were still rejoicing the end of the First World War in 1918, an idea gained momentum in Mission to build a permanent hospital in the community as a living memorial to those who had sacrificed their lives during the Great War.
Integral to the realization of that idea was the 23 women who were the founding members of what was then called the Mission Hospital Auxiliary. It was established on April 9, 1920 under the presidency of Mrs. Emma Houlder (1920-1924).
This dedicated group of women proved their resolve to establish a hospital in Mission by helping with kalsomining walls, varnishing woodwork, dusting furniture, laying linoleum, and hanging curtains, as well as supplying quantities of linens, towels, and garments for the opening of a temporary facility on Third and Birch on May 15, 1920. At the same time, members helped raise money for a permanent hospital on Fifth Avenue (present-day site of Mission Memorial Centre), which opened in 1925 debt-free and served the community until the current one on Hurd Street opened in 1965.
For decades, the auxiliary not only raised funds to refurbish and equip the hospital but was also responsible for many aspects of the operation of the hospital. For example, until the British Columbia Hospital Insurance Plan was inaugurated in 1948, the auxiliary purchased and maintained all linens and equipment.
In August1948, a Junior Women’s Auxiliary was established for individuals with preschool children at home and business women who wanted to help out but were unable to attend the afternoon meetings of the original auxiliary. The new group focused on staging events such as dances and dinners to raise funds to help provide “comforts for patients and to buy approved equipment for the hospital.”
In 1966, the two groups merged and became known as the Mission Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. Since then this group has evolved and changed with the times, both in the services provided and to the organization’s name. In1995, the auxiliary expanded its services to the rest of the community and was renamed Mission Health Care Auxiliary.
To acknowledge the auxiliary’s century of extraordinary service (1920-2020) this month, the Community Archives Facebook weekly post on Tuesdays – BLAST FROM THE PAST – will feature their storied past.
– Information provided by Val Billesberger