Saturday, July 25, 2009

Brant Military Hospital - an excellent new website

It might come as a surprise to many Burlingtonians, that our city had a hospital back in 1917, long before the existence of today's Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital - and it's location was pretty much on the same spot of land on the waterfront.

The Brant Military Hospital was established during World War I in 1917, as facilities were desperately needed to treat soldiers seriously injured in the war. With only the Hamilton General Hospital available to service the Head-of-the-Lake area, the federal government expropriated the posh inn known as the Hotel Brant to become a military hospital (not a popular move with then owner, A.B. Coleman). The resort was quickly adapted - the large verandahs where tourists had once whiled away their holidays were boarded up and made into wards. The atmosphere became rather sombre as the building's first new inhabitants included amputees and bullet wound victims. In 1919, a second wing was built and used for soldiers wounded in the war and brought there to convalesce, with patients shipped to Canada from England and France once they were well enough to travel. Serious efforts were made to improve the soldiers' morale with concerts by Hamilton entertainers and even a hospital newspaper called "Carry On" published the writing efforts of patients.

There is an extensively researched new website entirely devoted to the Brant Military Hospital recently created by Illinois researcher, Gene Beals. This is his 4th military website. He is especially interested in the Brant Military Hospital as his great-uncle Joseph Crinnion was on staff.