Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 144 years

Manitoba Organization: Manitoba Hospital Service Association / Manitoba Medical Service / Manitoba Blue Cross

Founded in March 1938 by an Act of the Manitoba Legislature, and modeled on a similar system in the American state of Minnesota, the Manitoba Hospital Service Association provided non-profit group hospitalization insurance to the people of Manitoba. Subscribers to the service would pay a set amount monthly (initially, one dollar) so that unexpected hospital bills would be covered. The initial slate of executive officers were accountant Albert Livingstone Crossin (Chairman), manager William T. Hunt (Vice-Chairman), physician Ernest Samuel Rutherford Moorhead (Secretary), and banker John McEachern (Treasurer).

In 1939, the Winnipeg firefighters’ union asked for an insurance plan to pay their members’ medical bills. Ernest Moorhead persuaded the Manitoba Medical Association to offer them a plan in which he received the claims from doctors, accepted some of them and paid them so far as the premium income from firefighters permitted. The firefighters’ plan was expanded in 1944 to become the Manitoba Medical Service, with Moorhead as secretary and medical director, providing medical benefits for large groups of employees.

The Manitoba Medical Service later merged with the Manitoba Hospital Service Association.

The Manitoba Medical Service was incorporated by the Manitoba Legislature in 1942.

Trib, 6 Jan 1961, p11: Manitoba Medical Service announces its move to 599 Empress

The Association gained the right to use the Blue Cross name and trademark in 1974. Incorporated formally as the United Health Services Corporation, it operates as Manitoba Blue Cross, offering group hospitalization plans, accident and health insurance, and life insurance.

Chairs (Manitoba Hospital Service Association)




Albert Livingstone Crossin (1868-1956)


Owen C. Trainor (1894-1956)


Frederic Wardell “Fred” DuVal (1925-2002)


James Arthur “Art” Coulter (1916-2005)


William David “Bill” Bowman (1925-2011)

six years

George Jackson Strang (1934-2000)

Chairs (Manitoba Hospital Services Plan)




Gordon Langsdale Pickering (1913-1997)

Executive Directors / Presidents / Chief Executive Officers


President / Chief Executive Officer


Albert Livingstone Crossin (1868-1956)


Norman I. Corne (1916-1992)


Aidan J. O’Brien (1942-2015)

Office Locations


Office Location (Winnipeg)


116 Edmonton Street


185 Lombard Street (Great West Life Building Annex)


599 Empress Street (Blue Cross Building)

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: Jean-Baptiste Joseph “John” Charron (1890-1971)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Blue Cross Building (599 Empress Street, Winnipeg)

Memorable Manitobans: Grant McLeod (1900-1976)

Memorable Manitobans: Peter Lowe (1887-1980)

Memorable Manitobans: Michael Hawrysh (1937-2013)


“Hospitalization plan aims to aid working people,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 February 1938, page 1.

“Legislature’s approval sought for group hospitalization plan,” Winnipeg Tribune, 17 February 1938, page 3.

“Hospital Service officers,” Winnipeg Tribune, 17 December 1938, page 5.

“New location,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 January 1960, page 2.

[Manitoba Service Association liquidation], Winnipeg Tribune, 12 April 1960, page 8.

“80,000 covered by Blue Cross,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 December 1974, page 10.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 8 January 2023

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