Last Resort: Hospital Care in Canada

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Introduction

Denis Goulet, Université de Sherbrooke, 2003

The modest hospitals of early New France served mainly as shelters and general care providers for the needy. The Hôtel-Dieu institutions in Quebec City and Montreal, respectively founded in 1639 and 1642, accepted patients of all nationalities and religions, refusing only those with contagious diseases, pregnant women and the insane.

Hospitals primarily dedicated to medical care date to the early 1800s, when physicians and philanthropists set up small private facilities to make treatment more widely available.

In Canada's large cities, new hospitals like the Montreal General (1819) and the Toronto General (1829) were built for the English-speaking Protestant population. Others such as the Hôpital des Fièvres (1830) and Hôpital de la Marine (1834), both in Quebec City, were opened for people with contagious diseases, immigrants and sailors in an attempt to limit the spread of epidemics.

The foundations of a Canadian hospital system were laid, but it was not until the latter half of the 19th century that the modern hospital was born.