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The Protestant General

A severe typhus epidemic in 1847 spurred the Protestant community of Ottawa to found a protestant hospital to rival the Catholic Hotel-Dieu Hospital operated by Sister Elizabeth Bruyere and the Sisters of Charity.

The corner stone for the first Carleton County Protestant General Hospital was laid on 19 September 1850, and the hospital was opened in May 1851. The two story stone structure opened with 10 beds and two employees, a steward and a matron (his wife).

The Carleton County Protestant General Hospital built in 1851

Epidemics of typhus, typhoid, cholera and small pox continued to scourge the city, and by 1870 the first hospital was inadequate. A new hospital was designed by Robert Surtees, and construction was begun on 16 May 1873. The corner stone was laid by the Governor General Earl Dufferin with full masonic ceremonies.

The hospital opened in 1875 with a capacity of 75 beds. It was the largest, most modern, and best equipped hospital in Ottawa, with high ceilings and segregated wards separated by long corridors. The first hospital was recast as an isolation hospital for contagious diseases, and was demolished around 1900 due to its condition.

In the1890’s, medical services began to congregate in the area with the Lady Stanley Institute for Trained Nurses (1890)

Lady Stanley Nursing Institute circa 1892

and the Ottawa Maternity Hospital (1894) located east of Wallis House near the Rideau River.

The Ottawa Maternity Hospital

The Ottawa Protestant Children’s Home (now the Turkish Embassy) was located behind Wallis House on Wurtemburg Street.

Ottawa’s population quickly outgrew the capacity of the new Protestant General Hospital and a major extension was added in 1898. The main building was expanded to the east, and a wing with three large wards extending to Rideau Street was added. A third story was added to the newer east wing in 1912, and large sun rooms were added to the ends of the wards on Rideau Street.

The Carleton County Protestant General Hospital circa 1900 – now The Wallis House

The last major epidemic to strike Ottawa was typhoid fever in 1912. So many patients were admitted to the hospital that tents were established in the grounds of Wallis House, where the first hospital had previously stood.

Tents around the Protestant General Hospital during the 1912 Typhoid Epidemic

By 1920, Ottawa’s medical requirements had outgrown the facilities and the Protestant General amalgamated with St. Luke’s Hospital in 1924 to form the Ottawa Civic. In 1925, the Protestant General site was purchased by the Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa.