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Histories of Canadian hospitals and schools of nursing



"In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed."

Samuel Johnson, A dictionary of the English language. (London. 1755)


This bibliography began as a 'working tool' when the compiler was working with colleagues at the Osler Library of the History of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal to expand their collection of ‘medical Canadiana”. Rather unexpectedly, it grew into what hopes to be a comprehensive bibliography.

What is listed

The initial aim was to list all separately published histories of Canadian hospitals; the scope has been expanded slightly to include separately published histories of Canadian schools of nursing and Canadian university faculties of health sciences as these are closely associated with hospitals.

Though it is a rather fine line, a few biographies are included if their subjects are closely identified with one institution. If a history appears in frequent 'editions' with almost the same pagination I have usually only included the title once - on the expectation that these 'editions' are really reprints. Histories of hospitals operated in foreign countries by Canadians - primarily armed forces hospitals - are included as are a few general histories of hospitals in Canada . The list includes a couple of videos or DVDs .

Some University theses are included, mostly if they cover hospitals which are otherwise likely to be omitted. Most of the theses mentioned are available, often in electronic full-text, from the appropriate university, ProQuest or UMI. Some have been digitized and are freely available on the Thesis Canada website.

This bibliography has been produced by searching OCLC's WorldCat and many more specialised library catalogues, including those of the US National Library of Medicine, the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec and those of several Canadian university libraries, Provincial archives and the Toronto and other large public libraries. Earlier printed bibliographies have proved helpful - in particular Charles Roland's two volume Secondary sources in the history of Canadian medicine and the History of nursing beginning bibliography edited by Shirley Stinson and colleagues. As the second (and final) volume of Roland's bibliography was published in 2000 and the Stinson bibliography was published in 1992 neither have listings from recent years. It should be noted that both volumes of the Roland bibliography are freely available online through the University of Calgary.

So that users of this bibliography can find additional details on titles, libraries who report holding the titles and, often, a link to a digitised e-version, OCLC WorldCat links have been added to the entries. If there are no WorldCat locations and CHAC has digitised the title (see note below) this is noted. Of course, WorldCat does not reflect the holdings of all libraries and sometimes has duplicate entries.

What is not listed

The bibliography does NOT generally include:

  • histories which were published as articles in journals or nursing school yearbooks.
  • general city, town or area histories which have separate chapter(s) on local hospitals and
  • general histories of institutions, usually religious, which operated hospitals.
  • histories offered only on websites or as electronic downloads.

Other sources

Greg Humbert – supported by the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada (CHAC) - has created the Catholic Hospitals Digital History Book Collection and is also compiling a series of e-booklets on the history of smaller Catholic hospitals under the Series title “Foundations”; these are noted here, though print versions are not normally produced. The CHAC site lists some more general histories (e.g. histories of catholic religious orders) and items such as Yearbooks and Annual Reports which are not listed here as they are outside the scope of this bibliography.

The "Asylum Projects", website states that "The mission of this site is to archive both historical and current information on asylums across the United States and around the world". It has many Canadian entries, often with brief histories.

Particularly in the late 19th century, there were many 'spas" in Canada. Some have histories that are listed in the bibliography. There is a listing of all(?) of the active spas in Hinsdale, Guy ; Climates and health resorts in the Dominion of Canada. (Transactions of the American Climatological Association for the year 1902. 18: 146–181) which is freely available on PubMedCentral.

General ‘cautions’

It should be stressed that, in almost all cases, the compiler has not seen the actual publication; the decision to list or not to list has been guided by the descriptions made by cataloguers in many libraries. If errors or omissions are found, please let me know!

Hospitals get re-named, merge and are closed with great regularity - I have tried to be consistent about names and try to use the name as used by the authors of the book unless additional histories have been published under a later name.

OCLC's WorldCat links to many, but not all, digitised versions (if any exist) and apart from the many histories to be found digitised in the Catholic Hospital Digital History Book Project, additional titles have been digitised by Google, and many others. If a title is not listed in WorldCat but has been digitised by the CHAC I have noted this.

There is an interesting general article on Canadian hospital histories, written by Barbara Lazenby Craig, in Archivaria 21 (Winter 1985/86.) To quote Craig:

"... quality [of hospital histories] varies with the purpose intended for the publication. Most are executed by dedicated employees or associates of the hospital to celebrate an anniversary or achievement. They reflect pride in accomplishments, confidence in the future, and reverence for the achievements of medical science and the tradition of selfless service which marked the careers of hospital board members, employees, and volunteers. It may be tempting to dismiss these celebrational efforts as naive, but unquestionably their authors' sharp appreciation of the importance of the hospital eluded the professional practitioners of the historical craft until a few years ago."

It is certainly true that the quality, scholarship and completeness of the histories noted in this bibliography varies greatly but I have generally included rather than excluded - particularly where a hospital would otherwise be unlisted.

The bibliography is continuing to be updated and the date of the most recent update to each of the sections is shown at the bottom of each page.

The Osler Library at McGill University, whose collection is already very strong in this area, aims to increase its holdings of medical Canadiana and aims to fill in any gaps in its hospital history collection. Offers of either gifts or potential purchases can be addressed to Mary Hague-Yearl at

It is anticipated that there are both omissions and errors in this listing; it would be appreciated if these were reported to me.

The bibliography is in six sections:

General histories
Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island)
Western Provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan) and The Territories)
Canadian hospitals outside Canada


Emeritus Librarian
McGill University

1 November 2022

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