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Histories of Canadian hospitals and schools of nursing


West and North

"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)


The creation of this bibliography began with the aim of listing all separately published histories of Canadian hospitals, it 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 .

The bibliography does NOT generally include:

  • histories which were published as articles in journals or nursing school yearbooks.

  • histories published as university theses. Though theses are normally excluded the listing does include a few; these are usually histories of hospitals not covered, so far, by a published history. Most of the theses mentioned are available, often in electronic full-text, from ProQuest or UMI. Some theses have been digitized and are freely available on the Thesis Canada website

  • general city, town or area histories which have separate chapter(s) on local hospitals and

  • general histories of institutions, usually religious, which operated hospitals.

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.

Several of the older items are available on fiche or online through the CHIM microfiche or Early Canadian Online projects from Library and Archives Canada. A few others are freely available full-text online as part of collections such as Our Roots-Nos Racines or Google Books.  In general, information on microform or electronic versions of printed items is not included.  Many (for Catholic hospitals) are available in digital format through the excellent CHAC project. (See below.)

The Catholic Health Alliance of Canada (CHAC) (Greg Humbert) continues to digitize printed histories of Catholic hospitals and nursing schools; the results are available through their website, and are publicly available. In 2005 the CHAC produced a CD-ROM - A compendium of the Catholic Health Association of Canada; this contains several useful lists of Catholic hospitals, and some of the publications and archival sources connected to them. It too is available on their website at They list some more general histories and items such as Yearbooks and Annual Reports which are not listed here as they are outside the scope of this bibliography. There is a general link to the CHAC site following the entry for all digitised items.

This bibliography has been produced by searching the Canadian national union catalogue, OCLC's WorldCat, the catalogue of McGill University, the catalogue of the US National Library of Medicine, the catalogue of the Bibliotheque et Archives nationales du Québec and those of several other Canadian university libraries. The online catalogues of the various Provincial Archives and the Toronto Public Library have also been consulted. 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 volume (and final) 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 on the web as part of the Alberta Medical History Collection. There is also the excellent website on hospital history in Québec City produced by Archives nationales du Québec and Université Laval. For a very complete bibliography - listing books, articles and theses - on mental health in Canada, including a few institutional histories, see the History of Madness site HERE.

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." The site 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 them in Hinsdale, Guy M.D. Climates and health resorts in the Dominion of Canada. (Reprinted from the Transactions of the American Climatological Association for the year 1902.) London: John Bale, Sons & Danielsson, Ltd, 1902.

There is an interesting general article on Canadian hospital history, 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 but I have generally included rather than excluded - particularly where a hospital would otherwise be unlisted.

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

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

The bibliography is regularly updated and the date of the most recent update to each of the six geographic sections is shown at the top of the appropriate page.

So that users of this bibliography can more easily find copies of the items listed in their local libraries, OCLC WorldCat links have been added to the entries.

Of course, WorldCat does not reflect the holdings of all libraries and sometimes has duplicate entries but the link has normally be made to the WorldCat entry with the most locations and normally links to the record for the print edition. There are a few items which do not yet seem to be listed in WorldCat.


Emeritus Librarian
McGill University
23 August 2019

The list 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


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