Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 40 > Page 21 - Dr. Austin MacDonald: How We Got the Hospital Down North

Page 21 - Dr. Austin MacDonald: How We Got the Hospital Down North

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1985/8/1 (294 reads)

eral government who had been minister in charge of the National Park Service, and had now been shifted to another department in the federal government--he came from Lunenburg. And a school pal of his was our United Church minister at Cape North, Bur? ton Corkum. And Burton said--when he found out that we couldn't get anywhere with this business--and that was the only suit? able site around Neil's Harbour that we could see--Burton said, "If you fellows can put up the money"--he, of course, be? ing a country minister, he didn't have any--so we put up the money and we shipped him off to Ottawa to see Robert Winters. He was back in two days' time: "I have it, boys!" He said, "We can have any piece of land we need. I showed them on the map what we wanted, beside the brook, where we'd be assured of a good water supply." He said, "It's just a matter of us now get? ting in touch with the park superintendent in Ingonish. The responsibility is his now to survey and lay out the land for us." We didn't even have to get in touch with him. The next morning he and his surveyors were down, told us to point out the piece of land we wanted. They surveyed it that day, staked the whole thing, and we were ready to go. (You mean they cut a piece out of the na? tional park?) It's still national park. And in all of Canada, that's the only non- park building in a national park. Now, when they wanted to build an old people's home down there two years ago--what we wanted to do was get permission to build it alongside the hospital. Then you could have a cross-infusion of staff if neces? sary. And the total staff, and the total expense of running it, would be probably cut in half. No, sir. We could not get one square foot of park land anymore. And of course, Robert Winters is dead and Burt Corkum is dead, so we couldn't go that same route the second time! So they have to build that unit in a different place. (In other words, it was just a political decision.) Yeah. (Didn't change any laws.) No. We have it on a 99-year lease. That was 1953. There's about 60 years to go yet. (Marie: Ninety-nine years is forever.) Well, it's forever for 2 or 3 generations, an37way. An37way, it worked out. Now, when I said we had our 30 thousand or 35--I've forgotten how much--it doesn't matter any more--and we got a place to build, and we got the go- ahead to build--that put us in line for the federal and provincial government grants per hospital bed. Those were avail? able from the end of World War 2, when the government realized it had to greatly in? crease the number of beds available in Can? ada. Because they had a whole new popula? tion of young people back from the ser? vices and married and raising children and everything like that. So, they set up these grants. Fifteen thousand a bed, it a- mounted to. So we would qualify for that. Then the county had given the Baddeck Hos? pital a grant when it was built. Well, we asked for the same thing. And they gave it to us. The Red Cross had some money left o- ver, and they kicked in with another $5000 or $10,000 or something--I've forgotten the exact amount now. But whatever it was, when we started to drive the first nail in that new hospital, we had close to $100,000. We had money collecting. We put in a cam? paign in Sydney among the merchants and the doctors and everything--we raised a few thousand there. See, they always used to--the better-heeled ones, anyway--went down north for their vacations in the sum? mertime. And the people dom. north who were doing big shopping, they all did it in Sydney, to these merchants. They didn't want to lose that custom. So they contrib? uted. We didn't twist their arms. We just told them the facts of life, and they kicked in with money. And we got quite a lot of money that way. Harold Devereau went around and saw all the doctors and the dentists, and he collected from them. And Jack Yazer did all the business people in Sydney. (Jack Yazer's been working for hospitals for a long time.) All his life. All his life in Canada, that is. (Marie: Jack was well known down in that country because, when he came to Canada, he trav? elled down there with a pack on his back. So everybody knew him.) He couldn't even speak English. And after a few trips a- round with the pack, he could speak as much Gaelic as he could English. Hardly a house in rural Cape Breton that didn't know Jack and his brother Mendel, because they were pack-peddlers when they came from Poland. He was 17 years old, I think, when they came here. Jack's a tremendous citizen. We had contribution boxes in every store and business establishment north of Smokey, and everybody dropped their 25c or 50' in A* Atomic Energy of Canada Limited L'Energie *Atomique du Canada, Limitde CANDU Nuclear Information Centre An Insight into Canada's Advances in the Nuclear Age'' Iat OPEN THE 10 - 9 JUNE ROTARY TC IN SEVEN DAYS A SEPTEMBER PORT HASTINGS WEEK , N. S. (21)
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