Open house launches centennial celebrations at Comox hospital

ST. JOSEPH'S GENERAL Hospital has changed immensely since this photograph was taken in 1915. The hospital will celebrate its 100th anniversary in July, and a number of special events are planned between now and then.
— image credit: Courtesy St. Joseph's General Hospital

St. Joseph's General Hospital will kick off its centennial celebrations Friday with an open house.

Attendees can browse photos and artifacts, indulge in some cake and refreshments, learn more about what the hospital centennial is all about — plus they will be the first to see a special mural that will be showcased in the hospital lobby, according to centennial co-ordinator Mary Lee.

"The mural tells a story through a collage of the images from the past through to the present. It reflects the hospital's rich history beginning with the Sisters (of St. Joseph) and moves forward to the present," explains Lee.

"The reoccurring message or theme is 'Care with Compassion,' a philosophy the hospital has stood by for the past 100 years. We have also adorned the collage with a very special piece of artwork by local artist Andy Everson."

The open house starts at 11 a.m. in the main lobby of St. Joseph's.

Lee notes the hospital lobby has undergone a bit of a "facelift" in preparation for the new mural, with a few modifications and a fresh coat of paint.

"Visitors will see these changes as soon as they walk in," she says. "There is a warmer, more inviting feel to the lobby now that the cool pale walls have been replaced with a richer blue hue, which is complementary to the project that will be unveiled during the open house."

A number of dignitaries are expected to attend the open house including Premier Christy Clark, Comox Valley MLA  Don McRae and Father Marek Paczka, who is representing the Diocese of Victoria.

Numerous photographs and newspaper clippings from the past 100 years have been pulled from the hospital archives and will be on display during the open house, as well as some original patient registration logbooks.

Lee notes artifacts are in short supply but some have been lent to the hospital for centennial celebration purposes. For example, the Courtenay and District Museum lent the hospital an enamel tray, jug and cups which was used there sometime during the late 1940s.

Because of their delicate nature, artifacts will be showcased in glass display cases to protect them.

Anyone with items that once belonged to the hospital or were used at the hospital, like medical equipment, uniforms or journals, is encouraged to share them for temporary display during the centennial celebrations, which continue until July 7 when a huge public celebration and mass will happen at the hospital.

For more information about loaning artifacts e-mail Mary Lee at

The public is also encouraged to share their stories and special memories of the hospital over the years for a Legacy Year project.

For a $100-donation a donor can purchase a year for their commemorative story — a birth in 1937, or a life-saving operation in 1962 are examples. These stories can simply be a one-line dedication or a paragraph up to 100 words in length, and accompanying photographs are welcomed.

Stories received before March 31 will be considered for a banner display the hospital will create.

Funds raised through this campaign will go towards centennial events like a commemorative video, the mural and various hospital beautification projects.

For more information on the Legacy Year project, visit, the hospital foundation office at 2137 Comox Ave. or call 250-890-3046.

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