History

St. Paul’s Hospital’s pledge to provide compassionate care was first tested during the Klondike gold rush in the 1890s.

The Sisters of Providence

St. Paul’s Hospital’s history began when Mother Emilie Gamelin founded the Sisters of Providence in Montreal in 1843. The Sisters of Providence established schools, hospitals, orphanages, homes for the aged and asylums across Canada, the United States, and later in many other countries. 

St. Paul’s began as a 25-bed compassionate care hospital in 1894, named after both then-Bishop Paul Durieu, OMI, of New Westminster and Saint Paul. Mother Mary Fredrick from Astoria, Oregon was the first mother superior and administrator to lead its charge. In keeping with the philosophy of the Sisters of Providence, the new hospital was founded on the pledge of providing compassionate care for everyone in need – tested by a surge in Vancouver’s growth brought on by the Klondike gold rush in the 1890s.

A History of Innovation and Compassionate Care

From the beginning, the sisters, staff and physicians of St. Paul’s were keenly interested in using the latest medical technology. The hospital became one of the first to have its own X-ray machine, circa 1906. By the 1970s, plans were in place to remake the 500-bed hospital to fulfill its new role as a provincial referral and tertiary care centre for specialty services, with the ability to respond to changing needs in community care.

St. Paul’s Hospital Today

Now a renowned teaching hospital with a strong research focus, St. Paul’s Hospital is recognized provincially, nationally and internationally for its work in the areas of heart disease, kidney disease, nutritional disorders, HIV/AIDS, and the care of the disadvantaged. 

St. Paul’s Hospital continues to develop programs that proactively move health care from the treatment of disease in hospitals, to the management of wellness in the community, and further strengthen the goals of the Sisters of Providence to provide compassionate, effective care to those in need.

Additional Milestones

1843 – Sisters of Providence is founded in Montreal.
1894 – The congregation establishes St. Paul’s, a 25-bed compassionate care hospital.
1904 – A surge in Vancouver’s growth brought on by the Klondike gold rush allows for the first of many expansions, with the addition of 50 more beds. 
1906 – St. Paul’s becomes one of the first hospitals to have its own X-ray machine.
1907 – The School of Nursing at St. Paul’s Hospital is officially opened on September 1.
1914 – A modern fireproof structure with a new surgical department and 120 beds is added.
1931 – The North Wing is completed.
1945 – The South Wing is completed - combined with the North Wing this means an additional 500 beds.
1969 – The first lay administrator is hired and runs the hospital while the Sisters continue their involvement in the hospital and on the board.
1983 – The first 10-story tower is completed.
1991 – The second 10-story tower is completed.