Historical Plaque Properties


City of Stratford - Isolation Hospital
290 St. Vincent Street S.
Stratford, ON

The four-acre property at the southwest corner of St. Vincent Street and Easson Street was purchased from Nicholas Griffin for $1,000.00 in 1910 by the City of Stratford.  The building contract of $3,000.00 was given to contractors Henry Jacobs and George Litt. The heating and plumbing contract was given to Joseph Myers.   The Women’s Aid group furnished the 3 1/2-storey brick building with $1,600.00. The hospital had 11 rooms, two toilets, two bathrooms, and the most modern appliances.  Five adults and four children could be accommodated at one time. In the basement, there was a furnace room, dining room, pantry, kitchen, and a laundry and sterilizing room with a laundry chute, through which the soiled clothes and bedclothes could travel and be disinfected before going into the laundry.  On the first floor was a doctors’ room, nurses’ quarters, a sitting room, toilet, and bathroom, as well a bedroom for Sampson B. Webb, who was named the first superintendent of the facility, and his wife, Sophia, who was named as matron. Initially the attic was reserved as a children’s play area but eventually was needed for more nurses’ quarters.  The public ward was extended across the front of the house of the second floor. To the rear of those rooms was a semi-private ward as well as a private ward with one bed and a cot. There was a medicine cabinet and dispensing table in the upstairs hall.

It took more than ten years for the board of health to convince the city council of the need for suitable accommodations for patients requiring isolation. Before the isolation hospital was built, patients were isolated in tents on the grounds to the north of the hospital, in the area that would be known as the Old Grove.  Smallpox patients wound up in shacks, sometimes called “pest houses” in Avondale and Queen’s parks. Typhoid, diphtheria, and scarlet fever patients were quarantined in their home, which meant the entire family was confined until the patient’s illness passed.  In March of 1901, the board of health called a meeting comprising the finance committee, a board of health representative, and members of the Women’s Hospital Aid. The council didn’t want to increase taxes to raise money for a facility that people may not want to use. In 1903, the King’s Daughters, a church-oriented organization, offered to provide a tent that could be erected on hospital grounds, but the hospital trustees rejected the offer, saying the project should be governed by the city’s sanitation regulations. The Daughters had raised $650.00, which they donated towards the construction of the building. Finally in 1909, the hospital trustees decided to enlarge their facility and include an isolation unit in the addition, but Dr. R. W. Smith, the provincial inspector of prisons and public charities, said “general hospitals do not care for such patients” and isolation hospitals had to be separate buildings under the control of the board of health. Architect R. Banks Barber was asked by the board for preliminary plans. His drawings came at a cost of $10,000.00, at which the board balked. He then prepared plans for two cottages each costing $2,000.00 to be located to the rear of the main hospital. The hospital board did not favour isolation facilities on the hospital grounds. By August of 1910, the city fathers agreed to issue debentures of $5,000.00 to cover the cost of a building site and a building.

In 1923, with the second major addition to Stratford General Hospital, an isolation wing was added making the hospital at 290 St. Vincent Street South redundant.  The house was sold to Charles W. Mace, a CNR engineer, and his wife Catherine. They lived there for a dozen years before selling it to Charles Parkins. In 1939, William G. Morrice, an employee of the city’s board of works department, purchased the property, and for more than half a century it remained in the Morrice family.