Air Ambulance in the Park & A Cemetery Tour

Our June 28 post, “From Buckboard to Sikorsky” mentioned that, before the current heliport at Royal Columbian Hospital was built in 2002, they had to use Sapperton Park, across the street from the hospital, as an emergency landing area. When a patient was brought to RCH Emergency by helicopter, the police had to close East Columbia Street and clear the park in order for the helicopter to land safely. The patient was then wheeled across the street to the emergency ward and eventually, after the helicopter had departed, traffic and park activities returned to normal. These two photos were taken by Dianne London in 1989 at Sapperton Park, New Westminster, when the helicopter had just brought in a patient for RCH. Our thanks to Gerry and Dianne London for allowing us to use these images.

Air ambulance landing in Sapperton Park, across the street from Royal Columbian Hospital in 1989. Photo by Dianne London

Air ambulance in Sapperton Park 1989. Photo by Dianne London

The first of two cemetery tours focussing on the 150 year anniversary of Royal Columbian Hospital will take place on Sunday, August 12, 2012, from 3 to 5 pm. This tour will explore a series of interesting, intriguing, or curious stories that involve RCH and individuals buried in St. Peter’s and Fraser cemeteries in New Westminster. Several of these stories have been told in this blog, though there will be much more detail given on the tour as well as the opportunity to ask questions or add comments. There will also be many other stories that don’t necessarily lend themselves to a blog!

Among others on the tour will be the grave and story of Lillian McAllister, a well loved nurse who died on duty and after whom the nursing home was named in 1935, and Dr. A.W.S. Black who served in the Crimean War in Florence Nightingale’s hospital, and when he died in 1870, left the town with no medical doctor. We will also visit the grave of David Robson.

Grave marker for David Robson in Fraser Cemetery. The Women’s Hospital was in the Robson house

The Women’s Hospital, that was incorporated with RCH in 1901, was located in Mr. & Mrs. Robson’s house on 3rd Avenue in New Westminster.

Ethel Cunningham’s family was involved in almost every aspect of the community, including the Women’s Hospital and Royal Columbian. You’ll hear about how James Cunningham, Ethel’s uncle and one of the wealthiest citizens in the community, had planned to move to Vancouver but decided to stay and help rebuild the Royal City after the disastrous Great Fire of 1898.

A portion of Fraser Cemetery with the Cunningham market in the foreground.

Another familiar name to blog readers is Dr. A.L. McQuarrie. He was the “detective” who solved the mystery of the source of the killer scarlet fever epidemic in 1913. See that story in the June 6th post.

If you are in the area on Sunday, join us for the tour. You’ll “meet” some of the people you’ve come to know through this blog and many others involved with RCH who have curious and intriguing stories to tell. One of those is a family who lost their home and their business in the Great Fire, but suffered an even greater loss 12 days later when their daughter died of a disease that is very much a concern in BC today. Find out how they dealt with the devastation and, while deeply mourning her death, increased their drive to rebuild and constructed a two-storey hotel with accommodation for at least 75 guests to replace their old one – in less than 14 days!

There is no need to register – just come to the cemetery office at 100 Richmond Street in Sapperton, New Westminster for a 3 pm start. Don’t forget your hat, sunscreen and walking shoes!

Explore posts in the same categories: Community Support, Diseases & Epidemics, General, Nursing

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