Originally located on the corner of Burdett Avenue and Vancouver Street in Victoria, Mount St. Mary Hospital was opened as an annex to St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1941 by the Sisters of St. Ann, to accommodate patients who required convalescent care services. It is this association with the Sisters of St. Ann and their evolving capability to meet the medical needs of Victoria which is part of this place’s heritage significance. In 1965, Mount St. Mary became one of the first Extended Care Hospitals to come under the British Columbia Hospital Insurance Service.
When the Sisters gave St. Joseph’s Hospital to the people of southern Vancouver Island in 1972, with remarkable foresight they stipulated that the property be used in perpetuity for health care. Thus it came about that through lengthy negotiations between the Sisters and various governing bodies the building of a new “Mount” was approved on the site of the former school of nursing at the corner of Fairfield and Quadra and a new model of multi-dimensional care was designed. Officially opened in March 2003, the hospital and its staff maintain the values of caring and compassionate care begun by the Sisters.
The Sisters of St. Ann arrived in Victoria from Quebec in 1858, to establish education and health service for new settlers and Indigenous people. While many of their contributions are celebrated, in 2014 the Sisters acknowledged that their involvement in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools contributed to a form of cultural oppression that has had a lasting effect not only on those who attended the schools but also on subsequent generations.
The history of Mount St. Mary came full circle in November 2012 when fourteen Sisters of St. Ann in need of complex care services transferred from St. Ann’s Residence upon its closure, and moved in as residents. Here they reside on the site where their tradition of compassionate health care is deeply rooted.