II-132158 | Christmas in Ward H, Montreal General Hospital, Montreal, QC, 1900

Christmas in Ward H, Montreal General Hospital, Montreal, QC, 1900
Wm. Notman & Son
1900, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , medical (125) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

In the absence of fast, effective therapy, the average hospital stay was measured in months. For men and women used to working long hours and little inclined to reading, the days before radio and television were filled with boredom. This led to the tradition of providing moral support.

At Montreal's Notre-Dame Hospital, women volunteers organized musical activities, gave the patients pious books "apt to give them courage" and decorated the wards with fresh flowers.

On major holidays, there was a "patient banquet," featuring turkey, beef and fish. The remark by a Balzac character to the effect that the sick were unwilling to go to hospital because they believed people starved to death there certainly did not apply to all institutions.

  • What

    This Notman & Son photo illustrates the hospital authorities' efforts to cheer up the patients at Christmastime.

  • Where

    Christmas festoons brighten an austere ward at the Montreal General Hospital.

  • When

    Most hospitals provided for Christmas and Easter celebrations. Volunteers, generally women, decorated the wards and organized the festivities.

  • Who

    All patients profited to some extent during holidays. Visiting hours were extended and the menus were adapted to the event: turkey at Christmas and ham at Easter.