City staff are recommending a proposal to convert the 1928 Southam Pavilion at the former Chedoke Hospital campus into a 28-unit condominium project. The applicant is proposing to convert the existing three storey medical building known. The staff reports recognized the historical importance of the building which was erected in 1928 largely through a gift by the Southam Family, owners of the Hamilton Spectator and several other major Canadian newspapers. Mars Wilson Southam, in particular, was a supporter of the Sanitorium, but she died while the pavilion was still under construction.
The report reads, “The proposal is an adaptive reuse of the existing Southam Building, which is on the City’s Inventory of Buildings of Architectural and/or Historical Interest. Development activity consists of an external parking area, internal renovations, and minor additions for an elevator shaft and foyer entrance, all of which will be reviewed in detail at the future Site Plan Control stage.
What started out as a tuberculosis sanitarium in 1906 on donated farmland, grew into a full fledged tuberculosis sanitarium through the 1920’s and 30’s when many of the existing buildings were built. Dr Hugo Turnbull Ewart who was appointed Medical Superintendent in 1947 had the distinction of presiding over the Hospital’s greatest period of growth and also the beginning of its decline.” In 1951 the facility housed 754 beds for tuberculosis patients. But the decline in the need for sanatoria was already underway with the discovery of powerful antibiotics that were being administered to tubercular patients. The number of cases of tuberculosis had fallen by half during the 1950’s. The hospital was able to make up part of the loss of patients by accepting Inuit patients who had no access to treatment, but the end was near.
By the early 1960s the last of the tuberculosis patients had been discharged and the hospital entered a new era as a centre for rehabilitation coupled with a children’s hospital. A Nursing school was established as well as schools of radiology and medical technology. In 1968 it looked like a new purpose was found for the site as McMaster University opened its newly founded School of Medicine on the campus but it was short-lived as McMaster built a new hospital at the University Campus in west Hamilton in 1972 and relocated the School of Medicine there. The nursing and technology programs were transferred to Mohawk College around the same time. By 1977 the Ministry of Health had shut down all of Chedoke’s active treatment beds as a general hospital and henceforth the facility’s role was as a rehabilitation, chronic care and community health centre. With those programs now being moved to a new facility adjacent to Hamilton General Hospital, HHSC is trying to engage the public in determining what the future will be for the campus which sits on prime mountain brow land.
There has already been extensive devilment of the former Chedoke lands and more is on the way.