Hello ~ Tân’si ~ Edlánet’é ~ Dahneh Dha’ ~ Nezu dágóts’e ~ Masì  ~  Ah ~

Oki ~ Aaniin ~ Aba Washded ~  Tawnshi ~  Wa-é ák-wé ~ Bonjour

Welcome to the online home of the Ghosts of Camsell. My interest in the Charles Camsell Hospital began with research for one of my books, Polar Winds: A Century of Flying the North, when I learned of the tuberculosis x-ray tours of Indigenous communities and how many were sent to the Camsell TB sanatorium – sometimes for years; sometimes never to return home.

The Camsell is reputed to be one of Edmonton, Alberta’s most haunted sites and its long, complex past has certainly haunted my imagination. The site, especially when it was set up as an Indian Hospital between 1946 and 1968, is a perfect intersection – and perfect storm – of colonial health policies, aviation, the North, medical history, and residential schools. My hope is this small website, facilitated by the Edmonton City as Museum Project Partnership Demonstration initiative, will start unpacking some of this past. It is only the first step in a long journey of research and reconciliation.

I would love to share in your stories and photos through this project and others that will follow. Also, as a non-Indigenous researcher, I am always looking for partnerships and guidance from Elders and others who can help me understand this shared past – and communicate it respectfully.

 I hope you will join me.

Please note: I am guided by the ethical guidelines and principles for working with Survivors and Aboriginal communities espoused by the Legacy of Hope Foundation.  1) a deep concern and compassion for, and honouring of, Survivors, their families and communities; and 2) a clear understanding of the need for and importance of the oral tradition of Aboriginal peoples. If you have concerns about any of the material on this site, please contact me. If you find yourself triggered by any of the Residential School content, please call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line for former Residential School students: 1-866-925-4419. For other types of support in the city, please go to the Aboriginal Edmonton Directory.


122 thoughts on “

  1. Alvina Cardinal September 13, 2017 / 2:57 am

    Hi I’m glad I found this link through Facebook and very interested in knowing more about the hospital. I was in hospital for a gallstone operation in 1986 and that was probably almost when it was closed, but I also had a brother who died there around 1965 of and never came home. I always wondered where they buried him. Now I’m thinking this probably where he too was buried. I sure like to know if there’s anyway I could find out where he was buried so I could go visit his grave.


    • historiandmc September 15, 2017 / 8:10 pm

      Thanks so much for visiting the site and sharing some of your story. Do you know if your brother was Protestant? If so, his name might be among the list of 98 names on the St. Albert cairn. If not, it’s likely he was buried at Winterburn. Are you in contact with the Enoch Cree Nation? The folks in charge of the archives over there are in the process of working through some of this history and legacy. I can connect you, if you’d like. All my very best, Danielle


      • alvina October 21, 2017 / 5:30 pm

        sure anything would help ..sorry didn’t see this


      • Alvina Cardinal October 28, 2017 / 3:42 pm

        hi yes it would be appreciated of you could hook me up with with the people in Enoch please thanks

        Liked by 1 person

      • historiandmc October 30, 2017 / 6:55 pm

        I just sent you an email with an e-introduction. Hope it works out and you get some answers!


      • John michael charlo February 27, 2018 / 7:05 am

        I got my both ears surgery and my tonsil pull out. I was wondering it was experimental.


      • historiandmc February 27, 2018 / 5:01 pm

        Thanks for leaving a message. Can you tell me roughly what years you were there, please? (also, the topic of ‘experimental surgery’ and medical procedures is quite complex, so I’m trying to think through that with the help of different Indigenous and non-Indigenous resources)


      • clint August 17, 2019 / 10:36 pm

        i wanna knw more about this place


  2. David Lenzi September 21, 2017 / 12:50 am

    The TB epidemic and the quarantining of those poor unfortunate souls who were to lose their lives to this scourge is a dark part of history. I was also unfortunately made even darker by the treatment of natives, Inuit and Inuvialuit. these were times where life was hard for aboriginal people and much of that was due to culture shock. Europeans were as much at fault as anyone because of this clash of cultures. I sincerely hope that everyone can use the mistakes of the past to learn from and together build a much more positive future for everyone.


  3. Fiona M Seniantha August 3, 2018 / 11:51 pm

    My sister n I were in the hospital together one time in 73. We’ve had surgeries on our ears. 5 on my sis n 3 on mine. She barely hears n she’s had to see docs n they tell her someone sure did a job on hers. I am borderline deaf n use aids. I’ve been there few times. But what I don’t like is my hearing loss n ringing in the ears.


  4. Sheryl April 5, 2019 / 4:43 pm

    I was sent to Charles Camsell for a
    Surgery in the late seventies,early eighties. I was sexually assaulted by the intern working with the doctor.
    I can’t remember their names or even the date. I’m wondering how I can recover that information?


    • historiandmc April 8, 2019 / 11:09 pm

      Thank you for submitting this comment and I am so sorry to hear about this assault. I hope you have found help and healing since then and I will do all I can to help you find this information. I’ll email you privately. All my best, Danielle


  5. Janelle September 30, 2019 / 8:06 pm

    My moosum is a survivor from the Charles camsell hospital. He is 83 years old.


  6. Joanne Marie January 23, 2020 / 2:54 am

    I was born here. August 21 1989
    I’ve always been interested in this building ever since my mom first drove by and told me this was the hospital where she had me. Maybe when it becomes condos I can move in lol


  7. judy alderton January 23, 2020 / 4:05 am

    How do I connect to blog so I can get all updates and information on Ghosts of Camsell. I have a close friend, a living survivor…I so want to lear and read more.


    • historiandmc January 29, 2020 / 11:42 am

      Looks like you figured out how to subscribe! I haven’t updated in awhile, but I will certainly be circling back in the coming months and years as I continue my journey into this work – both personally and as a researcher.


  8. Denise kayseas January 28, 2020 / 4:15 pm

    Hi my biological mom gave birth to me Dec 1962. She was supposedly diagnosed with TB she was pregnant didn’t realize .them I was born. Taken @ birth.apparently 60s surviver also


  9. Doug Lorenzen February 7, 2020 / 7:33 pm

    I attended Hay River Federal Day School, many of my school mates had TB.
    I almost think I developed an immunity to TB, because on the skin tests I was positive but did not have it. The government did the only thing they could do, to eradicate the disease.
    King Beaulieu, From Fort Resolution developed a strain of TB, that was immune to all treatment. Dr. Shaeffer, world TB expert, lived in fear he would pass it to others. Jim Ballisile, was hired to go house to house, in Fort Resolution, to make sure the the TB medicine was taken. What people in this Era forget, is what our living conditions were like back in those years. I am 83 years old, and lived in those times
    Indians and whites, if you like all lived, in the same conditions
    We all traveled with dogs in the winter and canoe or boat in the summer. Uncle Horace Mandeville, spent two years in the Camsell, and never saw any thing untoward.
    While I agree there may have been a few cases of abuse, it was not the norm. I never heard of any of that from my friends who returned.
    It was difficult enough in those days to get food and mail into the North let alone return deceased bodies. Also it was the most serious cases Sent out to the Camsell, others were treated by the doctors and nurses from the nursing stations in the villages.
    I know, I worked for them.
    Doug Lorenzen


    • historiandmc February 12, 2020 / 11:57 am

      Hi Doug, Thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge. Best, Danielle


  10. John Grinshaw March 27, 2020 / 10:52 pm

    This place has a dark history. I only knew it after it had been abandoned but I could feel the pull of it’s negative energy from far away.


  11. sqingnaqtuq@gmial .com May 19, 2020 / 10:14 pm

    In your records I think I find my late brother date of birth 1957 Tooglaoak I think it’s mis spelled Toogaloak is the last name by any chance KINGATOOK from Spence Bay if so that is the brother we been looking for. Also in the 70 both my and my younger brother went to Charles Camsell Hospital for our ears would I be able to find the date our last name KINGATOOK


    • historiandmc May 28, 2020 / 9:46 pm

      Thanks so much for your note!I’ll send you an email to follow up.


  12. susan patenaude October 11, 2020 / 5:54 pm

    hi my name susan patenaude and i had twin sisters who were taken to that hospital but my mother was told that they died but was never told where they were buried,im not sure of the year its between 1960 to 1963.


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