Historic Sites of Manitoba: Winnipeg Sanitarium / Concordia Hospital (437 Desalaberry Avenue, Winnipeg)
This Elmwood facility, arising as a result of work by Dr. A. D. Carscallen, was built between 1911 and 1912 near a previously discovered mineral spring on the banks of the Red River. Designed by Winnipeg architect Peter C. Samwell, the sanatorium was constructed by John E. Wilson at a cost of around $40,000 and incorporated as The Winnipeg Sanitarium Association Limited, owned by Dr. A. D. Carscallen, E. F. Hutchings, G. A. Glines, and A. S. McLaren. Rather than function as a hospital or consumptive sanatorium, it was outfitted to treat those with nervous disorders, stomach ailments, liver disease, diabetes, and those needing rest or relaxation. The nearby spring was tapped for use by the sanatorium and to limit riverbank erosion.
The institution sported its own 500-foot-deep well that allowed it to operate independently of the city’s water supply. The elevator-serviced red-brick structure was trimmed with limestone and an interior finish of birch polished as mahogany. An open-air veranda, along with connecting stairs, covered the entire rear river-facing length of the building. The first floor had a reception and waiting area, library, private offices, doctor’s surgery, and later with dining and drawing rooms. The second and third floors featured uniquely decorated patient rooms, many with private bathrooms, and the walls were designed so that rooms could be rearranged to allow for different configurations. The basement housed the baths along with related mineral spring supplies, as well as an X-ray unit. A staff and nurses residence was located nearby.
The site offered spacious lawns with planted trees and a terraced bank spanning 400 feet of Red River frontage. A wide concrete staircase led down the embankment from the rear of the building to a wharf. The building was opened on 6 May 1912 by Premier R. P. Roblin along with many prominent community members including Mayor R. D. Waugh, Aldermen, members of the Board of Control, and many in medical circles. It operated until 1932 when high maintenance costs resulted in its closure.
In 1933, the building was acquired by the Mennonite Hospital Society Concordia for $18,000 with the aim to establish a long-term site for their private hospital. The newly acquired facility, formally known as Mennonite Hospital Concordia (but referred to generally as Concordia Hospital), was the organization’s third facility, the others being located at 291 Machray Avenue (since demolished, now an apartment building) from 1929 to 1931 and at 720 Beverly Street from 1931 to 1934. After renovations and redecoration, the Desalaberry location was opened officially by Premier John Bracken on 17 June 1934. A celebratory service attended by 1,000 people, complete with a three-choir performance, was held at St. Andrew’s Church. The reception continued at the Desalaberry site where Reverend C. H. Hiebert, Board of Trade President Wesley McCurdy, and Dr. R. Claassen spoke before the assembled throng.
Concordia Hospital opened as a 50-bed facility. Between 1951 and 1953, its capacity was expanded with the addition of a new wing and subsequent renovation of the original building. The project cost some $300,000 and was based on designs by the architectural firm of Moody and Moore. Renamed the Concordia General Hospital in 1964, it became simply Concordia Hospital in 1971. The hospital was later closed following the opening of the present location on Concordia Avenue. Vacant as of late 1974, the city bought the building for $1. Plans to refurbish it into an senior citizens home were abandoned and the structure was later demolished in favour of a new structure on the same site.
Architectural plans for Concordia Hospital (1951) and the Nursing Residence (1956) are available at the Archives of Manitoba.
Photos & Coordinates
“Elmwood Sanitarium,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 September 1910, page 5.
“Local notes [The Winnipeg Sanitarium Association Limited],” Manitoba Free Press, 13 February 1911, page 8.
[Sanitarium in Elmwood], [newspaper clipping], May 1911, by Jim Smith.
“Tenders,” Manitoba Free Press, 26 May 1911, page 2.
“Building permits Wednesday,” Manitoba Free Press, 16 June 1911, page 15.
“Free mineral water from Elmwood spring,” Manitoba Free Press, 26 July 1911, page 5.
“Sanitarium nearly complete,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 September 1911, page 8.
“New sanatarium formally opened by the Premier,” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 May 1912, page 5.
“New sanitarium,” Winnipeg Tribune, 23 July 1912, page 8.
“Winnipeg’s new mineral spring sanitarium,” Manitoba Free Press, 20 December 1913, page 10.
“Bonspielers welcome to the Winnipeg Mineral Spring Sanitarium,” Winnipeg Tribune, 17 February 1915, page 7.
“The 7th anniversary of Canada’s finest sanitarium,” Manitoba Free Press, 15 July 1919, page 3.
“Natural Mineral Springs at Winnipeg,” Winnipeg Tribune, 22 January 1921, page 17.
“Mennonites to operate local sanatorium,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 22 February 1934, page 8.
“New hospital is opened up by Mennonites,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 21 April 1934, page 15.
“New hospital is given official opening Sunday,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 June 1934, page 4.
“Mennonites join in celebrating faith’s founding,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 July 1936, page 5.
“Old Concordia may become care home,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 April 1975, page 52.
“Hospital ownership debate appears ended,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 November 1978, page 4.
Concordia Hospital: Faith, Health, and Community: 75 Years, 1928-2003 by Abe J. Dueck, 2003. [copy held by Nathan Kramer]
We thank Rob McInnes for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 25 April 2021