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. Janice waltze April 6, 2015 / 3:20 am

    Interesting read! My mother was a nurse there I remember the Eskimo and Indian people making soapstone carvings, mukluks and crafts! Very talented!


    • Cassandra March 31, 2016 / 5:24 am

      Eskimo is a really derogatory term. Inuk could replace it.


      • historiandmc March 31, 2016 / 1:43 pm

        Hi Cassandra, yes, words/terms in common usage in mainstream society have certainly changed from earlier years and I always try to use Inuit/Inuk/Inuvialuit because that’s what the community has said is correct. It’s good for all of us to pay attention to these things. Thank you!


      • Adam May 11, 2016 / 4:00 am

        I find it prudent to mention that the Charles Camsell was run by the “Department of Indian and Eskimo Affairs” so although that term may be frowned upon, in this context not necessarily out of place.


      • historiandmc May 12, 2016 / 2:22 pm

        It is certainly tricky terminology for many of us to navigate, but when there is so much baggage associated with terms, we need to tread carefully. In terms of ‘Eskimo’, the term has been reclaimed by some Inuit and rejected outright by others as, at best, ignorant, and at worst, racist. When we’re quoting sources from the time period of course we use the original words – in quotation marks! And interestingly enough, the Camsell over its long lifespan, looks like it came under the oversight of several different federal departments. And then of course was run by the Government of Alberta after 1980. It’s good to have these debates and discussions; in the end I always bow to what individuals and communities prefer, because I think that’s accurate and best for reconciliation!


      • Ralph and Jen Watzke October 3, 2016 / 4:46 am

        There are Inuit people who even today self-describe as Eskimo. We kñow Edmonton retired Lawyer Keeviak (formerly David Ward), who habitually referred to himself as Eskimo even in recent years – he liked to say he was the only Eskimo to ever have played football with the Edmonton Eskimos. Also, in Regina SK in 2015, we met a man driving a classic 1968 Chrysler who proudly described himself as Eskimo! It is also still the common usage in Alaska, Sara Palin’s husband so self-describes also.


      • historiandmc November 7, 2016 / 12:39 am

        Hi Ralph,
        I appreciate you wading into the conversation. Like many names ascribed to an ethnic community, I think context and power relations are so key. If people choose to self-describe using word ‘Eskimo’, of course that’s totally their choice! There are certainly people in the African-American community trying to reclaim the ‘n-word’, people in the LGBTQ community trying to reclaim ‘f*g’, and feminists trying to reclaim the c-word (all contentious debates within those communities). Like you, I’ve also met some folks who refer to themselves as ‘Eskimos’ – sometimes it’s a generational thing, sometimes it’s a political statement. But overall, looking at the major Inuit governmental, cultural and social organizations in Canada, ‘Eskimo’ is seen as an often pejorative name imposed by outsiders, which is the reason why there’s a big push to rename the Edmonton Eskimos team. What I’ve been told is to be as specific as possible (Inuvialuit for Inuit in Western Canadian Arctic, for example), and that Inuit is the preference overall.


    • Constance Stopera March 9, 2017 / 8:24 pm

      My mother was a patient there!


  2. Tina Dmytryshyn April 22, 2015 / 10:58 pm

    My father fought in WWII and he was wounded in Italy. After he was wounded he contracted Pleurisy. He was eventually shipped home on the hospital boat the Queen Mary to Halifax and then home to Alberta by train. He underwent several operations at the Camsell and spent 4 years in hospital. That’s where he met my mother, she was a nurses aid. They were married in 1948.


    • historiandmc April 23, 2015 / 3:58 pm

      Tina – what a wonderful story. Perhaps you could share it at our upcoming oral history recording session around the Camsell Hospital on May 19, 2015? I’ll be posting details soon.


  3. Dr Jean-Claude Marcoux, ba dc (ret.) April 26, 2015 / 10:09 pm

    Very touching indeed ! Interesting and revealing video, Danielle… It somehow reminds me of how those people were treated here in Québec : good intentions but bad procedures produced what we call in our province “les enfants de Duplessis” (prime minister “Duplessis’ kids”), those hundreds of children brought down south in institutions (directed by nuns) away from their families and their culture to be “ecucated” the white people way…In Alberta,they tried to save their bodies from turberculosis…In Québec they tried to save their souls from damnation…With doubtful disastrous results for sure.


  4. Valerie Kaufman May 3, 2015 / 12:59 am

    Interested in the May 19 oral history recording activity? Where, and what will be shared? I have many family members who were at one time or another in the hospital for various reasons including TB.


    • historiandmc May 4, 2015 / 2:45 pm

      Hi Valerie – thanks for your interest in our upcoming session! Yes, anything connected with the Camsell is fair game to record during this evening event. Please check out the blog post “Tell Your Story” on the right of the screen for all the details. Thanks and look forward to meeting you on the 19th!


  5. Candace Schubinski May 23, 2015 / 7:28 am

    I was born in that hospital.


    • lisa August 13, 2017 / 6:34 am

      So was I.


  6. Ellen Smith May 27, 2015 / 7:06 am

    I remember the old Charles Camsell Hospital, I visited pts there as student certified nursing in training and after I graduated I worked I the Charles Camsell Hospital for six months, the old hospital then, them moved to new facility in 1967. So sad to see it abandon now. When I visit Edmonton, I always go by to see my old stomping grounds. I had relatives that died in the old Charles Camsell and are now buried outside of St.Albert. Need to go the monument on my next visit.


  7. Ellen Smith May 27, 2015 / 7:09 am

    My daughter Maryanne Hoggarth was born in the hospital, Dec.2,1966


    • historiandmc May 27, 2015 / 2:56 pm

      Thanks for sharing those stories – sounds like you have a lot of connections with the Camsell!


      • Ellen Smith May 28, 2015 / 7:25 pm

        Yes, I sure did have a lot of connections to Charles Camsell Hospital.


  8. Jennifer Shaw June 9, 2015 / 3:23 am

    I was born at the Charles Camsell. 1975.


  9. Louise Beaulieu July 10, 2015 / 12:09 pm

    Hi i was in Charles Camsell for TB 1969/70 for 9 months. I wad about 16 years then. I was isolated for three months until my result (TB specimen) came back from the lab. I had needles every morning before breakfast. And if you didnt get your needle, u dont get breakfast. On the 7th floor was TB ward. We also had a free haircut n hairdo on the main floir of Charles camsell. They were many of us for TB from the north. Some pass away n never get to see their love ones. And some nade it home n i was one of them that made it home. Contact me if u need more info.


    • Bev Cardinal Morin July 30, 2021 / 3:44 pm

      HI Louise do you remember anything about he babies or what may have happened to them like how did they die etc?

      thank you
      780 298 2078


  10. louise beaulieu July 10, 2015 / 12:30 pm

    Hi i was in Charles camsell hospital between 1969 and 1970. I was there for 9 nine. Steadily we were given needles every morning before breakfast. No needle no breakfast. I was isolated for the first three months and if the specimen came back positive, you were isolated for the next three months. I dont recall having any tv ot phone in my room when i was isolated. I don’t remembered having any music or books to read. I remembered my brothers Henry and moise came to visit me in different times. Luckily i didnt stay another three months isolated. I get to mingle with other patients which was near Christmad holiday. Some people were very fortunated to go on passes with their live ines. We had presents given to us donated by done of the organizations from Yellowknife.
    I am from Yellowknife and I am from Yellowknives Dene First Nation. I am dene and i had live in the north most of my life. Although i had move various places home is where the heart is. If u need more information contact me through email.


    • historiandmc July 10, 2015 / 4:14 pm

      Louise, thanks so much for contacting me through this site and I’m so glad you made it home. I will definitely follow up with you as I move forward and if you’re ever in Edmonton, please let me know. I may get up to Yellowknife again in the next year or so and I’ll look you up. If you know of anyone else who would like to share their stories, I am happy to listen and try and make this history better known. Mahsi Cho.


  11. Shannon Houle July 10, 2015 / 9:22 pm

    Just to inform you of an error in the Charles Campsell Book. My mother was the first baby born at the hospital after my grandmother had TB while pregnant. My mother was named Alma Theresa Janvier and her parents were Adeline (Jacko) and Moise Janvier. There is a picture of my late grandfather holding her outside the hospital but the book says she was a boy, untrue & not sure how they could get that wrong. She was born March 23, 1946. Maybe you can help correct this inaccuracy as my grandmother stayed there for almost 2 yrs and never raised my mother due to her illness etc.


    • historiandmc July 11, 2015 / 3:43 am

      Hi Shannon, Thanks for writing and sharing this piece of your family history – and the Camsell’s. I’ll definitely file it away and see how I can help correct the record. Unfortunately errors can creep into any piece of work and since the book is long since out of print, they probably can’t do anything about it now. But in my own work, it’s important not to repeat errors from other sources, so I’m very happy to hear from you. I hope I can get in touch if I need more details? Thanks, Danielle


    • Donna Napesis July 27, 2017 / 8:05 pm

      Hi Shannon Houle,
      I would like to find out where I can obtain a copy of Charles Camsell Book?
      I would appreciate it, because I had relatives that went there


      • historiandmc July 30, 2017 / 10:24 pm

        Hi, I’m not Shannon but can give you a couple of ideas of where to find books on the topic. There’s the Charles Camsell Mosaic that came out in the 1990s. They didn’t print a lot of copies of it, as far as I can tell, so usually you can find it through abebooks.com (or .ca) or through used booksellers on Amazon or other sites. Some libraries also have copies of it to borrow or in their reference section (non-circulating). If you go on http://www.worldcat.org you can see which libraries have it, or go to your local library and ask someone to help you do an inter-library loan, etc. The Camsell Hospital is also mentioned in some other books (Healing Histories; Separate Beds; and Unbundled Medicine). Hope this is helpful! Please let me know if there’s anything else I can point you toward.


  12. Chantelle clark July 10, 2015 / 9:23 pm

    i was born there and want to know more. Thank you.


    • historiandmc July 11, 2015 / 3:40 am

      Hi Chantelle,
      Thanks so much for your note and nudge to keep going with my research and writing about the Camsell. I will keep at it for sure!


  13. Chris July 10, 2015 / 10:28 pm

    Just dropping to have a read and pass it on to others in my circle.
    Please continue your search as long as possible. Histories like these need to be brought into the light for all to see.

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
    -George Santayana (16 December 1863 in Madrid, Spain


    • historiandmc July 11, 2015 / 3:39 am

      Thanks so much for your support and encouragement, Chris. I agree completely!


  14. Monique July 13, 2015 / 5:48 pm

    Hi there. I eas looking at researching for a book as well. I still have my list of contacts even though I had to stop my research. Might you be interested in these contacts? If so pls contact me. Would love to assist you in your endeavors . I live not far from the hospital and have always wanted to tell its story. Looking forward to hearing back. If you could email me that would be best. I will put my research together.


  15. Monique July 13, 2015 / 5:50 pm

    Hi there. I was looking at researching for a book as well. I still have my list of contacts even though I had to stop my research. Might you be interested in these contacts? If so pls contact me. Would love to assist you in your endeavors . I live not far from the hospital and have always wanted to tell its story. Looking forward to hearing back. If you could email me that would be best. I will put my research together.


    • historiandmc July 13, 2015 / 6:53 pm

      Thanks so much for your note and your offer of help. That is most generous of you. Yes, I’ll email you right away!


  16. Mary July 17, 2015 / 11:42 pm

    Hi I was there


    • historiandmc July 18, 2015 / 3:14 am

      Thank you for your comment. If you’d ever like to chat more about your experiences, I would be happy to follow up down the road.


  17. Another Indian July 23, 2015 / 6:18 pm

    This is an appropriate job for the indigenous communities, or an approved representative, to be the ones to clear any misguided or ill informed information from the slate. Having an appointee from the city go through and determine which of the historical documents are to be kept and what is to be destroyed, as well as being a white filter for all for the stories, is complicit in the furthering of a colonial history of which we are still perpetuating.


    • historiandmc July 23, 2015 / 9:29 pm

      Hi Kris (aka Another Indian), Thanks for weighing in here. I try to be a good ally in the fight for reconciliation and will take your comments to heart. I’m not sure where you got the information about my getting to “determine which of the historical documents are to be kept and what is to be destroyed,” though. I certainly don’t have that authority at all. If anything I’m trying to unearth hidden sources and go beyond government or colonial documents to actual stories from people who were there. History is fundamentally connected to structures of colonialism, I agree, but I’m trying to help decolonize its practise and be transparent in my motives and methods. Also, I just want to make it absolutely clear that I’m an independent researcher and writer and arm’s length from the City. Take care, Danielle


  18. sheldon August 13, 2015 / 10:42 am

    Mahci cho for all your efforts documenting the history of this particular hospital.

    As I was born there Devils Night, 1966, the significance of its History has alluded and now, finding myself rather intrigued into its origins.

    Will certainly follow your blog with much curiosity (p.s. Since I was adopted it would be reflective this hospital(s) impact on western Canadian ‘Sixties Scoop’


    • historiandmc August 13, 2015 / 4:57 pm

      Hi Sheldon,

      Thanks so much for getting in touch and am happy I can be helpful in bringing its history to light for people such as yourself with personal connections. I’ve just been starting to learn about some of the adoptions connected to the Camsell. If you’re willing to chat sometime about this, I would welcome the opportunity to try and meet and talk with you. Please let me know if I can follow up down the line. Best, Danielle


      • sheldon August 14, 2015 / 2:25 am

        Mahsi for prompt reply Danielle! As I reside in Ontario please feel free to contact thru my email.

        Look forward to hearing from you,

        Respectfully, sheldon

        Liked by 1 person

      • lisa August 13, 2017 / 6:40 am

        I was also born in the Camsell (1974) and then adopted out. I don’t know much more than that, though, other than I was apparently in an incubator for a little while, then went to a foster home before placement.


    • No June 2, 2016 / 8:18 pm

      Hi I was also part of the scoop. My mother was a nurse’s aid there. I’ve always assumed I was born there. Any ideas about where those records ard now?


      • historiandmc June 3, 2016 / 4:51 pm

        Hi, Thanks for getting in touch through here. The records question is a tricky one I’ve been trying to figure out as I do the research. It sounds like a bunch of them from the time it was a Federal Indian Hospital (1946-1980) ended up at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. I’m working with one family to do an Access to Information Request for any records to do with a deceased loved one and I would be happy to help you with that process too. It’s a bit of paperwork, about a $5 fee, and a lot of waiting.

        Then it sounds like the later records when it was run by the Province of Alberta likely ended up at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton but as part of their record-management system they destroy records every seven years (space concerns, privacy issues, etc). The other main spot for births, deaths, etc to check is the Provincial Archives of Alberta which holds vital stats records. Depending on your mother’s religion, there might also be something in one of the records sets of the different churches present at the hospital. Sometimes things got mentioned in the Camsell Arrow or local newspapers too…

        So you see, it isn’t always easy, but I’m trying to put together a bit of a guide to help people track down their information and get some answers. In the meantime, feel free to email me at info@daniellemc.com if I can help guide you.


  19. Matilda (Mattie) McNeill September 8, 2015 / 1:09 am

    I have a long history with the Charles Camsell Hospital. I was admitted to Ward 5 of the “old” Camsell on Aug 10, 1958 and discharged in Nov 1960. In 1965 I was a patient in Ward 1 for 11 months. I subsequently was a patient in the “new” Camsell a number of times between 1967 and 1978(?). My son was born there on July 29,1970.

    I must have been one of the lucky ones as my stories are mostly happy, positive ones. I remember a lot of the staff and patients who were on the same ward as me.

    I would welcome an opportunity to share my memories in more detail.


    • historiandmc September 8, 2015 / 8:00 pm

      Hi Mattie,

      Thanks so much for your note and I’m glad your stories are happy ones! There is certainly a whole lot of diversity in the history and experiences of people. I’ll be sure to follow up with you by email when the funding (hopefully) comes through and I’m able to resume my work on the hospital’s history and legacy.


  20. Barbara Verhaeghe September 21, 2015 / 6:00 am

    Both my brother and son’s born here brother was born Feb 6/86 my son was born June13/89 my other son Sept 17/91


  21. Nola Wanuch October 6, 2015 / 1:32 pm

    Hi there. My late mother was a nurse at the Charles Camsell hospital during the 60’s. I’m looking for photos of her if any. Can you point me in the direction of where I may look for said photos?


    • historiandmc October 6, 2015 / 3:01 pm

      Hi Nola, My best guess would be to get in touch with the City of Edmonton Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. Best of luck!


  22. Thomas October 7, 2015 / 7:08 am

    Really didn’t like it.


  23. Val Kipling October 29, 2015 / 5:22 pm

    Hello. I was born at this hospital in 1970. My mother was a patient there for roughly 4 years when her lung collapsed. I remember my grandmother calling us when there were family in the hospital. She would tell us to go visit so they wouldn’t be lonely there. We spent a lot of time wondering the grounds and halls. Getting in trouble from the nurses because we ended up in the morgue or psychiatric unit. I still go and walk around the place. See faces in the windows. My son remembers the was the hospital use to look in the 60′ but I have never taken him there. He even described what the inside looks like from what i remember, he was right. I saw the video of the names but where are the remains? Something i’ve always wondered i guess. Thank you for having this website so we can all learn of the history and some of us can reminisce.


    • historiandmc November 2, 2015 / 4:41 pm

      Hi Val, Thanks so much for your comment! If you cruise the different blog posts you’ll see maps and photos of the St. Albert Cemetery where there is an Aboriginal Cemetery housing the remains of the Protestant Indigenous patients who died at the Camsell during its Indian Hospital period. I’m still trying to figure out where the Catholic patients might have been buried. Perhaps we can chat more sometime about you and your family’s experiences. Take good care, Danielle


  24. Rosalie Cockney December 21, 2015 / 6:24 pm

    I spent 3 weeks there when I was 10 years old for ear surgeries and it was one of the worst times of my life. I was told they did experimental tests/surgeries there and I always wondered if mine were…..also the surgeries did not help much.


    • historiandmc December 22, 2015 / 2:51 pm

      Hi Rosalie, Thanks for reaching out and sharing your experience and I’m sorry you had such a negative experience. I’ll send you an email – along with the other former patients and loved ones – in the new year to keep you up to date on what I find and see if I can provide some more answers. Best, Danielle


  25. Edward December 22, 2015 / 10:41 am

    I had tb before that camsell got abandoned it fells like I lost in this world can’t do anything but that hospital save me all those nice angels but now its sad to see all that long history is down in flames but when I found out that they are rebuilding that place into apartments I’m so gonna move there that place will never stop will it 🙂


    • historiandmc December 22, 2015 / 2:51 pm

      Hi Edward, Thanks for your note! Take care, Danielle


  26. scott e briggs January 13, 2016 / 1:51 pm

    i had a cornea eye transplant in that hospital in 1996 I think it was unfortunately cornea didn’t work now I have mark on the cornea that doctors say cant be repaired, I don’t know what happen , but I don’t remember what level I was on but im doing ok now , but what I remember the level I was on ,the nurses station and rooms to the east wasn’t being used heck everything was empty in the nurses station but everything to the west was used a very busy with nurses station and the beds only thing that wasn’t empty to the east side of that hospital was the tv room I was in there alone watching tv , sometimes I wonder of im the only one with drafts around me watching tv with me


  27. Maison March 9, 2016 / 7:00 pm

    I had an evp device, i heard a voice say I am oliver? anyone know what this could be?


    • historiandmc March 10, 2016 / 2:43 am

      Hi Maison, Thanks for sharing what you heard. I can keep an eye out for anything to do with an ‘Oliver’ and try and pass it along.


  28. Maison March 30, 2016 / 4:54 am

    I went back here and I just got to say, I feel so much pain and sorrow everytime I go here. I managed to take an odd photo from the front side of the building. In the photo, one of the windows appeared to have an old box television powered on. It looks like a tv screen or something electrical on inside the window. It didnt have anything other than it looked like it was on a static channel. What bothered me was that I was told that all the floors except for the basement and first floor were torn out. I also think I caught a spirit walking on the same floor as the tv photo. I was using a negative camera, which can catch changes in light, ive caught weird things on it before so I know that it works. In the video it appears someone was looking out the window, it then dissapeared and seconds later appeared in the window where the tv photo was taken. It then seemed like it walked back then came up to the window and stood there with its hand on the window, thats when it walked away and it never reappeared. I am wondering if this is the spirit Oliver. This was a spirit that was using my evp device to talk to me?


    • historiandmc March 31, 2016 / 1:39 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing that information, Maison!


  29. Vivian Treadwell April 3, 2016 / 6:40 am

    I think it would be a good idea to have the face of the cairn replaced with a new face so that the names of the deceased can once again be clearly seen and won’t be forgotten.


    • historiandmc April 6, 2016 / 1:46 am

      Hi Vivian, Thanks for your comment. I’ll make sure it gets to the right ears. There’s a lot of thinking going on right now around the Camsell and its commemoration from different people and groups! Best, Danielle


  30. Mike Dingeldein April 17, 2016 / 2:53 am

    My late inuit grandfather spent a number of years in the Camsell hospital with TB. His name was Harry Kegiona.. He was found by missionaries in a snow storm wrapped in furs when he was a baby but his parents had not made it through the storm is what he was told. He grew up in orphanages in Coppermine and led a pretty interesting upbringing.. went to Winnipeg and became a Watchmaker around 1957 and opened up Harry’s Watch Repair in Grande Prairie, AB which he ran until late 1990’s…


    • historiandmc April 18, 2016 / 3:44 pm

      Mike – what a fascinating story (and so sad about his early loss of parents). Thank you so much for sharing it! If I find any information on him would you like me to pass it along? Best, Danielle


      • Ellen Smith April 18, 2016 / 4:43 pm

        Interesting, if only walls could talk

        Liked by 1 person

  31. ANNA July 1, 2016 / 9:36 am

    My personal experience as a patient there was horrific! I asked my mom why I was there for and she did not know. I was approx 8 years…and I was taken right from my Reserve after school in Northern Alberta and placed at Charles Camsell…I don’t know how long I was there for however, i only remember a balcony on that floor where all us children can go out for some sun and air. I only left the hospital once and still don’t know the older women’s name, I was taken to her home as an outing, I remember she had many cats at her home. I was hit a lot because I cried due to missing my family! I remember waking up one day there with my entire head bandaged and half my head was shaved- I now know that I was operated on. Behind my right ear is a surgical scar. I just recently found out from my doctor that a bone was removed from my ear, due to infection. The part I don’t understand is why two nurses in particular were so mean. 1 of the nurses would hit me so hard on the side of my right head that I would slide into the wall…I just remember the pain I felt and how I wished I was home safe with my family! When the nurse did this to me the other would laugh…I was only 8 years old! I would completely freeze when those 2 nurses came into my hospital room. Today from all the blows I have taken to the head and my ear…I have had ear problems to this day! I am legally deaf in my right ear and have a hole in my left ear that thankfully closed. I have witnessed other abuses on an Inuit girl- Eva was her name- older girl who held me when I cried. The sound of children crying due to loneliness from being away from home was enough to make others cry. It was hard…I don’t understand why the abuse had to happen in a place of Healing…it caused me a lot of emotional pain. Yes I have stories of that place …it was not the building it was those who were employed there…please dont get me wrong not all employees were abusive, to me it reminds me of Residential School experiences.


    • historiandmc July 6, 2016 / 2:09 pm

      Dear Anna, Thank you so much for sharing your story here. My heart breaks for you and what you went through as a child. You sound incredibly strong and I am grateful that you put your experiences down here for others to learn from. Sincerely, Danielle


  32. TheresaEH August 26, 2016 / 8:37 pm

    If my mother was alive today she would be 94 years old. Her good friend (also deceased) was a nurse who worked in the maternity ward. (Think old fashioned white uniform with hat). When the women from the reserves or “up north” came to the camsell to have their babies she was their nurse. She was an old fashioned, no nonsense lady, but I will bet my last $ she never was cruel. But she liked to tell stories out of school and my mother told me these stories as she slipped into dementia. If a mother from “up north” or from the reserves was A) on welfare B) possible alcoholic C) had many other children the doctor would declare with NO testing and NO consent that the woman had “cancer of the uterus” and give them a hysterectomy. NO ONE questioned his authority, it was the convention of that time.


    • historiandmc August 29, 2016 / 3:31 pm

      Hi Theresa, Thanks for sharing this important information. It is a complex story for sure and reflects a lot of the thinking of the time. I think it’s important to know the whole, unvarnished story and think long and hard about it – and reflect on how we do things today.


  33. Fern November 2, 2016 / 6:55 pm

    Did singer Roy Orbison not spent the night there after performance in Edmonton due to illness


  34. Feb. 1, 1984
    from UP (United Press)

    EDMONTON, Alberta — Singer Roy Orbison is undergoing medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment, a hospital administrator said Wednesday.

    Orbison, 47, was admitted to the Charles Camsell Hospital on Tuesday, said assistant hospital administrator Benny Leung.

    Leung would not disclose the nature of the American singer’s illness or his current condition.

    ‘In this particular case I can’t comment,’ he said. ‘We have to respect the wishes of the patient.’

    Orbison was in Edmonton for a series of nightclub performances.

    The country-pop singer is known for such hits as ‘Only the Lonely,’ ‘Crying’ and ‘Pretty Woman.’


  35. Travis December 17, 2016 / 9:43 am

    My Great Grandfather passed here in 1962, his name Maxime Beauregard, Wabasca AB


  36. belinda kent December 18, 2016 / 6:48 am

    I was born there in dec of 78, but then was moved to the u of a cause i was premature and sick, i always wondered about the hospital i was born in


  37. belinda kent December 18, 2016 / 6:49 am

    Intetested in info


  38. Marlon Ebanks February 10, 2017 / 11:22 pm

    I was born there in 1993! Mom has a newspaper saying I was the last Child Born there .


    • historiandmc February 12, 2017 / 2:15 pm

      Interesting! I think we’ve had the first child and the last child comment on this blog now. Wow! So great to connect with you all.


  39. John Kinnear February 12, 2017 / 6:53 pm

    Danielle. I have interesting information on a former student nurse at the Camsell who is in Juneau Alaska. Tried emailing you from the address in the book In This Together but it bounces back. I think she might be of interest to your research.


    • historiandmc February 13, 2017 / 9:40 pm

      Hi John, Thanks for getting in touch. Just spotted your emails and I’ll get back to you soon!


  40. historyindianresidentialschools February 16, 2017 / 7:58 pm

    Mother Earth is for humans and the Spirit world is for spirits. Our people have ceremonies to help spirits get to where they should be. If a spirit is earthbound, there are ceremonies that can be performed to help the spirit cross over. The noises, yells, throwing of things are done because the spirit does not know what to do, it is lost. And, NO, they are not here for observing.


    • historiandmc February 17, 2017 / 9:43 pm

      Thank you so much for this. I hope you have a good day.


  41. Natasha February 19, 2017 / 5:34 am

    Hello. I just want to say I’m glad I found your blog. As I’m also very interested about the history inside those walls of the Charles Camsell. I find it so weird that, I never heard about the hospital. I was born at the misericordia hospital in 1982. And lived here by the coliseum area for most my life. It wasn’t till about just over 3 years ago I saw the place for the first time. A friend of mine moved into an apartment close by and when on her balcony, you look right at the amazing building. I would as my friend about the place and either they didn’t know anything or would only say it was a old hospital that is now haunted by the ones who passed away there. And it the Unknown that really has me wanting to know and understand more about this amazing piece of Edmonton history. I would love to see some old pictures of the inside of the hospital when it was still running. Please do keep up with your research. I just came across your blog a few hours ago and I really enjoyed read it, I now know a little more about the Camsell. And can’t wait to learn more. I’m a strong believer in going to the people who really know about it as they experience it. There’s nothing more frustrating to me to hear what people, who haven’t experienced it at all say that place was like. To you wonderful people out there who have stories about them being there. Keep them coming. And for the ones who shared already.. I would like to say, Thank you for sharing.


    • historiandmc March 1, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      Thank you very much for taking the time to read the different stories people have been posting about the hospital, and for wanting to learn more in the first place. I think many in Edmonton (and beyond) are in the same position as you: just starting to learn about it because of a chance spotting or story!


  42. Barton Shakura February 21, 2017 / 2:19 am

    Hello Danielle – I’ve stumbled onto your site after being away from Edmonton for many, many years and had no idea the Camsell was closed (let alone had been empty for so many years. I lost a dear friend of mine in the Camsell back in July of 1984. I remember the place rather fondly. It was old and had the charm and character of so many old places, not like the hospitals you see today. It has been a journey of discovery reading the various posts on your site. I must say it feels good to see people come together from the shadow of so many dark days there. Keep up the good work.


    • historiandmc March 1, 2017 / 12:35 pm

      I am so happy you stumbled upon this site and am sorry to hear about your loss back in 1984. From what I’ve been hearing there is such a complex mix of fond memories and terrible ones… I don’t know if we’ll ever fully untangle them, but I hope we understand them a bit better.


  43. globie1kenobi March 15, 2017 / 7:17 pm

    Hello, I am not sure if this website is still in use, but I thought I would try to contact someone this way. I am a Masters student at the U of A, and for my capstone project I’m creating a website that will guide people in the right direction to perform their own research regarding a loved one who was taken to the Camsell and who never returned. I have used information and insights from this website as well! I don’t know…I guess for copyright reasons I am saying this…but my website will be on the same topic, just taking a different lens and foci. Anyways, I thought I would connect, and let someone know that this project is in the works. Cheers!


    • historiandmc March 16, 2017 / 5:25 pm

      Hi there, it sure is still in use – just not as active as it was when I was doing the initial serial blog project. I hope to do an update soon on my research and was actually planning on outlining research steps for folks to follow, so we should talk so we’re not duplicating our efforts. Hope to chat soon! Danielle


  44. S April 17, 2017 / 8:56 pm

    Hello Danielle (and anyone else reading this),

    I wish to share my experience at Charles Camsell.

    I went there last night with a friend at around 1AM. I have heard of the place (drove past it in the day time once or twice) and knew it was derelict and condemned. Of course I heard people say it was haunted, but the point here is that I was not coming here with much back story.

    Upon arriving at the premises I immediately had a profound feeling of sadness. I do not claim to be a “medium” or anything like that. However I did experience an extreme deep-set emotion of sadness that came over me. Its nothing that I have ever experienced before. I did not feel scared, I just felt extremely sad, and I felt I should leave at that point.

    I just have to convey to someone that I actually felt something there. I am not religious or really anything like that. What I felt there was real.

    Since experiencing that my life has changed and I feel obligated to learn more.

    So that was my experience… as for now I heard there is a grave site located near St Albert (by Campbell road). I want to go there and just check it out. That is my next step.

    I am not indigenous, however I have an extreme amount of empathy for what has happened to these people. And I feel (being a young person), it is my duty to educate myself on what the hell we’ve done to these poor people.

    Thank you for all the research you have done.


    • historiandmc April 18, 2017 / 9:55 pm

      Hi S, Thank you for sharing your experience and, most of all, for wanting to learn more about this shared history and legacy. I’m glad this website could be useful for you in a small way! Best, Danielle


  45. Tina April 24, 2017 / 6:45 am

    I spent the first few years of my life there and hope to meet the nurse who cared for me 1971-73


    • historiandmc April 24, 2017 / 4:53 pm

      I understand there were staff reunions up until a few years ago. Do you know the name of the nurse? We might be able to track her (or him) down.


  46. Susan Morrissey July 10, 2017 / 7:17 pm

    Hi there, I just found this site. I did a Student Summer Placement at the Camsell in 1987 or 1988 (can’t remember accurately which year). Working as an Activity Assistant, most of my days were spent working with many of the seniors who were at the Camsell, waiting for placement in a long-term care facility. There was one man I remember who had been in the hospital ward on the 4th floor, I think who had been waiting for placement for over 2 years. I remember the hospital had 4 beds to a room which left little opportunity for privacy.
    A memory I still have is having my office area in the basement in a cubby hole. The basement was where all the Rehab. staff had their offices and exercise space. One day, I remember asking a fellow student what that funny smell was and he told me it was formaldehyde. Apparently, we shared an adjoining wall with the morgue.
    One of my fondest memories was the outdoor space on the 3rd floor (I think). It was a large patio like area where some patients and family but most staff would go to relax and unwind. I once tried to have a patient tea on the patio, but remember it very difficult to get patients out there as we had to walk/wheel them through an area where they were renovating – the rumour was that the construction area was going to be a new surgical wing.
    My experience at the Camsell was mostly positive and certainly helped me as I continued on with my career as a Recreation Therapist. I read some of the earlier posts and was saddened to read of the mistreatment so many faced. Fortunately for me, my time there was positive. Looking forward, I would like to see the area redeveloped as it is an incredible piece of land in the centre of the city. I also wondering if re-development might allow for a bit closer by some of the sad memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • historiandmc July 11, 2017 / 5:16 pm

      Hi Susan, Thanks so much for your long and informative comment. It certainly sounds like you had a positive experience and that your work as a staff member doing recreational therapy was appreciated and useful! It is a complex story this is ever-unfolding… just yesterday the consortium led by Gene Dub asked City Council to amend zoning of the site to include multi-family dwellings on the south parcel of land (across the street from the old Camsell). In terms of closure for former patients and family members, I think that is such a personal journey. Many that I’ve spoke with saying having deep, full and transparent discussions, research and commemoration help. On a broader scale for the community and country, I think acknowledging and communicating this history is important, and addressing the lasting impacts on health care (as well as ongoing stereotyping, racism and sub-standard care for Indigenous communities) is critical for true reconciliation.


  47. Dave August 25, 2017 / 7:28 am

    My Mother was a nurse there from 1960 until the early 1990’s. When she started in the 60’s she was in the burn ward. At the time the patients were all from reserves in Alberta and folks from the Yukon and NWT. I remember her telling us stories of her patients and how nice they were even though with treatment they still were suffering from burn injuries. Never heard any mention of experimental surgeries. My Daughter was also born there in 1987.


  48. Catherine Chalifoux August 29, 2017 / 3:16 pm

    Hi my brother Joseph L Bigcharles was there at the Charles Camsel hospital when he was 4 years old. He contacted Polio and my parents took him there in the 50’s i don’t recall much as he was 10 years older then myself. I do recall him making trips there to be fitted with a leg brace for his growth spurts. Years later my sister Carol was born with some muscular problems and was taken there in the 60’s again she was 2 years older then myself. I do recall mom stating the nurses and doctors wanting to admitt her to i think it was called an asylum…my parents would not let her go. My father Joseph E Bigcharles was a ww2 veteran. He and mom had a farm in Big Prairie until the 70’s when we moved into the town of High Prairie. After all that my parents seprated because of alcohol and physical abuse.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s