Five years of planning and persuasion went into its building
Ahospital at Alexandria that would serve Glengarry residents was first seriously suggested by members of the Alexandria Royal Canadian Legion branch some years following the end of World War II.
The legionnaires suggested that the establishment of a hospital would be a fitting way to honour the memory of those who died in two world wars.
Mayor George Simon, who would pass away before the hospital became a reality, convened a public meeting June 9, 1960 in the courtroom of the Public Utilities building.
When some 250 Alexandria and area residents turned out, the courtroom was found to be totally inadequate and an adjournment was made to Alexander Hall, where representatives of the municipal councils of Glengarry, members of the clergy and the medical profession, heartily endorsed the idea of a hospital here.
The special guest speaker was John K. (Jack) Jamieson, of Toronto, head of the Hospital Grants Section of the Ontario Hospital Services Commission. An Alexandria resident for five years in the 1930s while employed with the Counties Health Unit, Mr. Jamieson detailed the grants available and the various approaches to building a hospital.
A steering committee was formed. Chaired by G.G. Aubry, the body was comprised of Mayor Simon, Bruno Massie and Elie David.
Each municipal council endorsed the project.
The charter was applied for January 24, 1961 and was received in March of that year.
The 12 interim directors were Mr. Simon, Alexandria Reeve Lloyd McHugh, Lochiel Reeve Roy MacMillan, Kenyon Reeve D. A. Gray, Charlottenburgh Reeve Gerard Brunet, Lancaster Councillor Alex MacNaughton, Maxville Reeve J. N. Fitzgerald, Lancaster Reeve T. Scott Fraser, Laurent Sicard, Elie David, G.G. Aubry and Bruno Massie, of Alexandria.
A constitution was drawn up by S.E. Fennell, QC, of Cornwall. The nine-acre site was selected and optioned in October of that year.
The Cornwall firm of Leblanc and Martin was engaged as architects in November and there was every hope that the sod-turning would take place for 1962. That was to be deferred for two years.
“Some very vocal opposition to the idea of a hospital here had developed in some sections of the county and some elected representatives of the people were not in too great a rush to vote the grants which were a vital prelude to the purchase of the land and letting of the contract for building,” The
News reported. “More than several meetings of the mind were required before all the nec- essary grants had been voted, all the required approvals had been received from several departments of government and the hospital commission.
“A spanking breeze was blowing out of the West on that memorable day of April 29, 1964, when the first sod was jointly turned by Mayor Raymond Périard, of Alexandria, Counties Warden Lloyd McHugh, the reeves of the four adjoining townships and Board Chairman G.G. Aubry. The key man in starting the ball rolling, Mayor George Simon, had died suddenly two months earlier and had been succeeded by Councillor Périard.”
The contract had been awarded to M. Sullivan & Son Limited of Arnprior.
1,000 people lined up
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, MP Viateur Ethier, MPP Osie Villeneuve, did the honours while nurses Nicole Trudel and Marvel Robertson assisted. Lloyd McHugh and G.G. Aubry are looking on along with other members of the board.
“It has taken us five years to get it built and opened,” said G.G. Aubry.
“But it is now a reality and our new hospital is quite a sight. It took the cooperation of many people to make this building possible.”