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 in 2012 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.

I created this blog in 2015 through the Edmonton City as Museum Project Partnership Demonstration initiative. It was only the first step in what is a long journey of research and reconciliation that continues to this day. Please keep in mind as you read and view the content on this site that my understandings have grown and shifted in the past six years. I recently received grant funding to complete my book about this complex journey, and to review the content and form of this site. In the meantime, I have been working for free with former patients and their loved ones as best I can. Yes, I make mistakes as a settler-ally all. the. time. Yes, I am accountable to learn and do better. As I work to unlearn harmful ways of thinking and being, and figure out how I can do more good than harm, I ask for your patience and generosity of spirit. I am, of course, always open to constructive feedback.

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.

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 Edmonton, please go to the Aboriginal Edmonton Directory.


145 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


      • Bev Cardinal Morin July 30, 2021 / 3:25 pm

        HI how are you? can you tell me anything that went on with babies in charles camsell hospital or where i can get more info?



      • Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail August 4, 2021 / 5:59 pm

        Hi Bev, I got your email too and look forward to connecting with you soon about this.


  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.


    • Deanna massaquoi May 29, 2021 / 3:12 am

      I want to know how can a person get hospital records and stays within Edmonton boundaries


      • historiandmc May 29, 2021 / 12:03 pm

        Thank you so much for reaching out. You can definitely start a search for records from Edmonton. Please check out the posts on this site by Melissa Cardinal-Grant and I about how you can do this. If you still have questions, please get in touch and I will do what I can to help! Best, Danielle


  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.


  13. Mona December 22, 2020 / 3:33 am

    I was born at the hospital in 1977. My mother delivered me via c-section. My mom was never able to conceive after I was born. She is of East Indian heritage and disabled (she had polio when she was 6 years old). Our fear is that she was sterilized without her permission. She remembers he doctor telling her to not have any more children because she already had too much responsibility to handle with me. I’m an only child. I don’t know what to do to get some answers. Was she sterilized? What was the medical justification for her having a c-section? Why was she never able to have children again?


    • historiandmc January 4, 2021 / 1:15 pm

      Hi Mona, I appreciate your family’s concerns and questions. There is, unfortunately, a terrible history of forced or coerced sterilizations among people of colour and those with disabilities in Canada and around the world. I’m not an expert, but my best suggestion would be to try and track down who the attending doctor was at delivery. If your family still has your birth certificate my guess is it would list the name there. If you don’t have this paperwork at hand, you can contact Alberta Vital Statistics to get copies, I believe. Another possible angle would be for your mother to discuss this with her current physician if she trusts them. Having done some research into birth practices and statistics, I would offer that Canada seems more conservative in its use of c-section than many nations, but birth trauma is a real thing that is just starting to be understood better in the medical community. Please feel free to circle back if you hit dead ends or can’t easily find the contact details for AVS. I would also be happy to connect you with someone I know who is a birth advocate and understands these issues better than I do. All my very best, Danielle


      • Simon Qingnaqtuq May 31, 2021 / 10:36 pm

        I may have found my late brother I’m not sure. On your list Tooglaoak Spence Bay October 11,1957 age 3 that might be him. My question is October 11,1957 was that the date of birth or the year they went there?

        Thank you.
        Simon Qingnaqtuq


      • historiandmc June 1, 2021 / 9:57 am

        Hi Simon, Thank you for reaching out. My understanding is the date on the cairn is the date the person died. Please let me know if I can be of more help. Best, Danielle


      • Simon Qingnaqtuq June 1, 2021 / 3:32 pm

        Danielle, Thank you for the respond. Have a nice day. Simon Qingnaqtuq

        On Tue, Jun 1, 2021 at 3:57 AM ghosts of camsell wrote:

        > historiandmc commented: “Hi Simon, Thank you for reaching out. My > understanding is the date on the cairn is the date the person died. Please > let me know if I can be of more help. Best, Danielle” >


  14. Dee June 5, 2021 / 9:07 pm

    “We were so grateful” your video says. You seemed to forget to mention the eugenics project, and medical experimentation. No word about harming otherwise healthy individuals with barbaric surgeries and full body casts for 1 year. No mention of the forced sterilization. No word about the forced labour of the children of the residential school to bury the bodies of those that died. Whitewash 101. Barf.


    • Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail June 6, 2021 / 2:29 pm

      Thank you for visiting the site and taking the time to watch the video that I created in 2015, at the very beginning of my research journey New information is coming to light every day in the records and from the former patients and family members who have trusted me to witness their stories. Did I do the best I could with what I knew then? Yes. Would I do better now? I hope so. Thank you again for taking the time to visit and comment. I will update the contextual information around the video shortly.


  15. Kevin Jackson July 2, 2021 / 4:58 pm

    What a wonderful film, and I am sure the challenge of condensing a huge amount of information into a small timeframe was a real challenge.
    I know and appreciate the strength these Indigenous people have to endure such difficulties. My comments and awareness is directed toward the nurses that worked there. My mother worked there when she first graduated nursing in the late 50s early 60s. She talks about the challenges of working with children on the wards that were extremely sick. The physical and mental toll on them was tremendous. But even on their days off they would take the children out on tours of the zoo and playgrounds at their own expense. Mother’s of these children gave them little gifts for their kindness. But somehow all the good that went on in the hospital has gone unnoticed.


    • Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail July 3, 2021 / 9:07 am

      Thank you for sharing your perspective, and your mother’s experience working there. I think we have seen clearly during the COVID pandemic how dedicated many health care practioners are, and the toll their work can take on them. I also think we’ve witnessed cases of terrible racism when Indigenous people have gone to seek care, and an inherently unjust system we’re all seeing with new eyes. How can we reconcile these things? How can we see the both/and of this history and the present-day? I think that’s a struggle many of us settlers and non-Indigenous folks are going through.


    • BB January 13, 2022 / 12:58 am

      When we shed light on the atrocities and horrors of this country’s past, we are not taking away from whatever good may have also been done at that time. Enough recognition and praise has been given to non-Indigenous people, it is what this country is built on. What we are doing is finally acknowledging and facing the truth of what went on. This would never have happened at a regular hospital and I don’t think it needs to be defended.


  16. Colleen Atkinson July 12, 2021 / 12:19 am

    I believe it is now day 17 of the Indigenous group that hold honour ceremonies at the West side of the hospital from 7pm to 1030 pm. There is music, drumming, singing and sharing of personal stories. Fellowship. There is also a petition going around that requests construction stops until such time that a search for unmarked graves be conducted.


    • Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail July 12, 2021 / 9:43 am

      Thank you for posting this comment and update. I wish I could go in person and visit with them. I hope many others who are local do (in a Covid-safe way).


  17. Tracy August 20, 2021 / 3:32 am

    My grandmother was a nurse there in the late 40’s. I have found items I’m not sure the story behind why she had one specific thing I found.
    If you know who would look at it I would be so appreciative.
    Thank you


  18. Dan Schluter December 10, 2021 / 8:18 pm

    My wife had our daughter there 83 she recently died covid age 38 I did delivery work for hospital last few years they were there for many of their dept as courier 1 fellow told me they saved his life had gone to other hospital in pain was sent home with pills his urinary tract has collapsed which was overlooked but fixed and discovered at the camsell


  19. Georgina Lightning December 27, 2021 / 10:42 pm

    I would offer that Canada seems more conservative in its use of c-section than many nations, but birth trauma is a real thing that is just starting to be understood better in the medical community. Please feel free to circle back if you hit dead ends or can’t easily find the contact details for AVS. I would also be happy to connect you with someone I know who is a birth advocate and understands these issues better than I do. All my very best, Danielle

    i would like to know who the birth advocate is please- i experienced horrific birth trauma.


    • Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail December 29, 2021 / 7:38 pm

      I am so sorry you experienced birth trauma. I will send your email address privately to the individual I know and see if she can follow up with you. If you don’t hear from her, I hope you can access trauma care through a mental health professional. You deserve to be witnessed and have someone walk you through this in a compassionate and helpful way. All my best, Danielle


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