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Key Number: HS 24649
Site Name: Isolation Hospital
Other Names: Jamieson Residence
Site Type: 0100 - Residential
1503 - Medical: Hospital or Infirmary


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
9 21 4

Address: 1920 - 7 Avenue S
Number: 20
Street: 19 S
Avenue: 7 S
Town: Lethbridge
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape: Rectangular Long Facade
Storeys: Storeys: 1 1/2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Brick
Superstructure: Nailed Frame
Superstructure Cover: Wood: Shingle or Shake Brick - Bond: Common
Roof Structure: Hipped Gable
Roof Cover: Wood
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Single Detached
Wings: None
Number of Bays - Facade: First or Ground Floor, 3 Bays
Number of Bays - Facade: Second Floor, 3 Bays
Wall Design and Detail: None
Wall Design and Detail: Decorative Shingle
Roof Trim - Eaves: Projecting Eaves
Roof Trim - Eaves: Rafters Exposed
Roof Trim - Eaves: Plain Soffit
Roof Trim Material - Eaves: Wood
Roof Trim - Verges: Projecting Verges
Roof Trim - Verges: Purlins Exposed
Roof Trim - Verges: Plain Fascia
Roof Trim - Verges: Plain Soffit
Roof Trim - Verges: Pediment
Roof Trim Material - Verges: Wood
Towers, Steeples and Domes: None
Towers, Steeples and Domes Location-Side to Side: None
Towers, Steeples and Domes Location-Front to Rear: Centre
Dormer Type: Gable, Projecting Eaves
Dormer Type: Gable, Returned Eaves
Dormer Type: Hip
Dormer Type: Shed
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Offset Left
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Offset Right
Chimney Stack Material: Brick
Chimney Stack Massing: Single
Roof Trim - Special Features: None
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Segmental
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Semi-Elliptical
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Moulded Lintel
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Voussoirs
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Material: Wood
Window - Sill Type: Plain Slip Sill
Window - Sill Type: Plain Lug Sill
Window - Sill Type: Decorated Lug Sill
Window - Sill Material: Wood
Window - Sill Material: Brick
Window - Sill Material: Concrete
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Number of Sashes: One
Window - Number of Sashes: Two, Double Hung
Window - Opening Mechanism: Single or Double Hung
Window - Special Types: None
Window - Special Types: Half-Round
Window - Pane Arrangements: 2 over 2
Window - Pane Arrangements: 6 over 1
Window - Pane Arrangements: 12 over 1
Main Entrance - Location: Centre (Facade)
Main Entrance - Location: 2 or More (Facade)
Main Entrance - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Main Entrance - Structural Opening Shape: Semi-Circular
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Voussoir
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening Material: Wood
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Flat Transom, Multiple Lights
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Moulded
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Side Lights
Main Entrance - Number of Leaves: 1
Main Entrance - Number of Panels Per Leaf: 1
Main Entrance - Leaves - Special Feature: Glass
Main Stairs - Location and Design: None
Main Porch - Type: Recess
Main Porch - Type: Open Porch
Main Porch - Special Features: None
Main Porch - Material: Concrete
Exterior: The large roof is a hipped gable with flaring eaves at front and rear. Hipped dormers clad in wood shingles break up the expanse of roof, and windows are place to crate a cottage-like feel. The main body of the house is brick, laid in a stretcher bond pattern with a soldier course every six courses. Most of the window openings have segmental-arch heads, but the top floor windows have square heads, and there are two very large semi-circular glazed openings on one corner.

Large brick structure with decorative cedar shingles on top half-storey and dormers; large half-round windows on NE corner.

Roof Structure: Hipped gable with very steep pitch.
Superstructure Cover: Common brick, shed dormers covered with wood shingle.
7303 - Main Porch - Type: Recess; main entry recessed with curved brick archway.
4204, 4211: Dormer - gable with projecting eaves and shed dormers on both sides of this gable.
4304, 4305, 4504, 4603: 2 chimneys (brick).
3503, 3703, 3704, 3705, 3717: Pediment of wood shingle.
Interior: 1st floor -6 rooms; 2nd floor - 5 rooms
Environment: Located on large, sloping lot in quiet residential area. Mature residential. Large trees in yard and boulevard. Recent new multiple dwelling being constructed on the back of this property.
Alterations: Recently renovated. 2004 - Back portion of lot subdivided off original lot.


Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Completed
Construction Started

Usage: Usage Date:
Children Detention Home (shelter)
Isolation Hospital
Owner: Owner Date:
Art Batty Construction Company
John, Bruce and Danny Jamieson
William Ellis Graton and Caroline Graton

Architect: Whiddington and Fry
Builder: Smith Brothers & Wilson
Craftsman: N/A
History: Jamieson Danny and John Bruce - Present Owner.
Was children' detention home.
Was polio isolation Hospital.



In 1882, the North Western Coal Navigation Company began to mine coal on the east bank of the Belly River, and a community to be known as Lethbridge was begun. With the arrival of a railway in 1885, the population began to grow rapidly, and consisted mainly of miners and railway workers. They were joined by merchants and others employed in service industries. In 1890, Lethbridge was incorporated as a town with over 1,400 people. In 1906, it became a city.

Among the services required by the expanding community were health facilities. In 1885, Dr. Mewburn arrived and began to serve as a general practitioner in the employ of the North Western Coal Navigation Company. His makeshift three room hospital soon proved inadequate, and, in 1891, the Galt Hospital was built. This would be the major hospital in Lethbridge until 1955. Other health facilities were however needed and therefore built, such as the maternity hospital established by Elizabeth Van Haarlem in 1909, and the Grace Dainty and Wimpole private hospitals, built during 1909-10.

As a mining community, Lethbridge was especially susceptible to communicable diseases such as whooping cough, smallpox and measles. In 1907, at the urging of Mayor W.S. Galbraith, a Public Health by-law was passed which called for the establishment of an isolation hospital. The following year, an isolation facility was created in rented quarters on Battery Point, and run by a husband and wife by the name of Dawson. In 1911, it was re-located to a wood frame building on City property near Mountain View Cemetery and put in the hands of a professional nurse named Elizabeth Dodds. Here, people with communicable diseases were located and treated in isolation to prevent their diseases from spreading. In 1918-19, it was in specially need for the international Spanish flu epidemic.

The end of World War I saw the expansion of industry in Canada, and, in 1921, Alberta was producing 41% of the country's coal. Lethbridge took heart and made plans for further growth. This included improved public facilities. In 1922, a red brick children' shelter was built by "Smith Brothers and Wilson" at 1920 - 7th Avenue S. This soon proved inadequate, and so another orphanage was constructed. In the meantime, the Isolation Hospital was also proving inadequate. Newspaper accounts told of poor heating and ventilation, with the beds being old RCMP folding costs. With heavy lobbying by Elizabeth Dodds, City Council decided to relocate the isolation hospital in the former children' shelter in 1928. Here, there were such amenities as a furnace, gas stove and washing machine, as well as newer beds which were transferred from the Galt Hospital.

The Isolation Hospital continued to be run by Elizabeth Dodds until her retirement in 1950. It was then taken over by the Galt Hospital. With the polio epidemic of the early 1950's, it was recognized to be inadequate for its purpose, and so, an isolation ward was planned for the large new Lethbridge Municipal Hospital which was opened in 1955. There being no further need for the old Isolation Hospital, it was sold by the City to private interests and converted into an apartment building called Lou Ann Apartments. With six suites, it has functioned as an apartment building ever since.

The historical significance of the Isolation Hospital in Lethbridge lies in its close association with the medical history of the city, in particular with its service during the polio epidemic of the early 1950's. It is also important in having served briefly as an orphanage.

* * *
Isolation Hospital - Local Historic Resource


This building was constructed in 1922 to serve as a children's shelter. In 1928, the decision was made by City Council to move the existing isolation hospital to the shelter. The new Isolation Hospital was considered to be a safe distance from other structures in the event of an epidemic. It also served to train nurses.

The Isolation Hospital continued to serve both these needs until 1955, and saw considerable use during the polio epidemic of 1952. In 1955, with the Galt Hospital and other medical facilities in place, the need for a separate isolation hospital declined. The building was then sold by the City to the Art Batty Construction Company for $15,530 and sub-divided into apartments. It has served as an apartment building ever since. This building's significance lies in its association with 1952 polio epidemic, an important chapter in the medical history in Canada, and also as a rare surviving example of an Isolation Hospital, an approach to disease control that has all but vanished from modern medical practice.


The Isolation Hospital in Lethbridge is, architecturally, a very interesting building. Though quite large, it manages, through quite large, it manages, through its Art and crafts-influenced design, to maintain a home-like feel. This is in spite of its original function. The large roof is a hipped gable with flaring eaves at front and rear. Hipped dormers clad in wood shingles break up the expanse of roof, and windows are place to crate a cottage-like feel. The main body of the house is brick, laid in a stretcher bond pattern with a soldier course every six courses. Most of the window openings have segmental-arch heads, but the top floor windows have square heads, and there are two very large semi-circular glazed openings on one corner. This last feature probably functioned as a porch where patients could "take the air" - typical in tuberculosis hospitals of the day. This is an unusual building type, and a well-preserved example of an architectural style.

* * *

By Beverly-Ann Carlson

"We sometimes kept scarlet fewer patients as long as six months," says Miss Mildred Dobbs, reminiscing about the days when she was the matron, head nurse, only nurses, and sometimes even cook for the old Isolation Hospital.

Miss Dobbs, who turned 93 years of age June 11, was head of the hospital from 1911, when she first arrived from Gloucesbershire, to her retirement in April, 1950.

"The diseases we had in our hospital were like smallpox and scarlet fever, but the measles were sort of pretty general,"..."we had the occasional typhoid and smallpox".

In order to not spread the different diseases to other patients in the hospital, "I had a different gown for each disease," says Miss Dobbs.

"We just carried on as other hospitals - the only thing was that we were closed in and couldn't run around town".

Miss Dobbs was the only nurse in the hospital, and says that she sometimes worked 24 hours a day.

"At one time, it was a year that I hadn't been out of the hospital," she says.

The reasoning behind not leaving the building was that each time a person left, they had to go through a process of a complete fumigation and sterilization.

When asked what the patients, Miss Dobbs, and the cook would do for enjoyment, she replied most indignantly, "we worked - we didn't have time for anything else!

"And if we did go out for enjoyment, we had no one to leave with the patients."

Miss Dobbs approximates that when she retired at the age of 74, than she received wages of $70 per month.

In all the time Miss Dobbs was in the hospital, she doesn't recall ever being ill except for a minor sore throat.

According to her, "the only real drawback to the hospital was that we couldn't have visitors - only through the window.

"So, therefore, I had to amuse them as well as myself, and if you sort of made a joke of things, it helped."

Miss Dobbs says that there never was any quarreling or fighting between her and patients.

The only person who ever tried to get away from the hospital was "a young man who just slipped through the window to see what was outside. He wasn't delirious, but he had a fever, and his head wasn't quite clear," says Miss Dobbs.
It now feels "strange" for Miss Dobbs to be able to come and go at her own free will. "When I used to go out occasionally from the hospital, when I returned, the patients would say 'you won't go out again while I'm here will you, Miss Dobbs?"

Patients' feelings for their nurse was summed up pretty well by two patients when being discharged, she says.

They said, "Well goodbye, Miss Dobbs. You've been like a mother to us. You're a good woman."


The exact history of the original Isolation Hospital is vague but it was located between the old Galt Hospital and the Lethbridge Brewery.

Opened in 1908, it is believed to have been run by a man and his wife by name of Dawson. There was one nurse there after the Dawsons left, by the name of Claffie, but little seems to be known of her.

1911 saw the move of the Hospital to a house near what is now Mountain View Cemetery, which was approximately three moles from the centre of town.

It was here in 1911 that Miss Mildred Dobbs became the nurse - the only nurse, for the next 39 years. The only other employee was a girl who would help with housekeeping and cooking. These employees stayed anywhere from a few months to many years. One cook stayed nine years.

The Isolation Hospital was an old building - very poorly heated, and poorly ventilated. In the winter Miss Dobbs, and her helper, if she had one, would keep six coal fires going to heat the house.

Facilities were very limited: the washing was done by hand, beds were old RCMP fokling cots, and during the colder winter days, running water could be obtained only for a few hours in the afternoon.

In the afternoon they would fill up all the pots and pans as well as the bathtub, then turn off the water again until the next afternoon. In this way, the pipes would not freeze.

After 10 years in the Isolation Hospital, Miss Dobbs requested a new pot and tablecloth as the ones she had were worn out. She was told there were two tablecloth when the hospital opened, and "what happened to the other one?"

In 1928 the department of health decided the old building was not fit abode for the patients, and Miss Dobbs, and the hospital were moved to 1920 - 7 Ave. S. - the building that was previously used as a children's shelter.

Although facilities were somewhat better, the first problem - which took years to solve - was to rid the house of bed bugs.

Miss Dobbs considered this hospital luxury. She had a gas stove, and furnace, several old beds from the Galt Hospital, washing machine, and eventually an electric iron. A few years before her retirement, Miss Dobbs received an electric refrigerator.

In the spring of 1950, Miss Dobbs retired, following which the Galt hospital took over full control of the hospital because of a polio outbreak. Hospital operations ceased in 1955 at the opening of the Lethbridge Municipal Hospital.

The Isolation Hospital still stands - a memorial to the past, and to the neverdying devotion and work of Miss Mildred Dobbs.

* * *
Mildred Dobbs, RN - 39 Years at Isolation Hospital

A Grand Religious Lady with Wonderful Philosophy on Life - She Wasn't Even Allowed To Attend Church

A history of Lethbridge Isolation Hospital is the history of a dedicated, unselfish, uncomplaining and hard working woman. ... She dedicated 39 years of her life to a job that few would take.
Miss Mildred Dobbs was born in Gloucestershire, England June 11, 1878 and trained in London. She took both her general training and her fever nursing and then worked for the Queen's Nurses (similar to the VON) in England and in the north of England.

Her brother moved to western Canada in 1910 and she followed him in 1911. She had not intended to stay but she obtained a position in the Isolation Hospital and remained there until 1950.
In 1911 the Isolation Hospital moved to a house near what is now Mountain View Cemetery (about 13th Ave. and 7th St. S) approximately three miles from the centre of town.
She (Miss Dobbs) had a "girl" to help with the housework and cooking. ...
The Isolation Hospital was an old building and very poorly ventilated. It was very cold in the winter and very hot and stuffy in the summer.

In the winter Miss Dobbs and her "girl" had to keep six coal fires going, taking out ashes and bringing in coal.
"Every winter I would complain of the cold," Miss Dobbs said, "and every summer someone would come out to check on the complaint and couldn't see what I was complaining about."

The washing was all done by hand. Miss Dobbs soaked the linen from the smallpox patients in bichloride of mercury and boiled the other linen. The ironing was all done by flat irons heated on top of the coal stove.

There were no beds in the hospital, just old folding RCMP cots. Blankets were of heavy dark wool. ...

Miss Dobbs went several times as long as two years without even visiting her brother because he had children and she was afraid of carrying infection.

Her "girl" was "fumigated" and allowed out for a day every three months. To fumigate the "girl" she had to bathe and wash her hair in disinfectant and then put her clothes in the fumigating closet overnight.

Miss Dobbs had little social life. A very religious person with wonderful philosophy on life - she wasn't allowed to attend the church.
Before she was there very long Dr. DeVeber, in charge of the board of health, said that she refrains from attending church on Sundays even though she had no patients. The doctor complained that every time she went to church he was kept very busy on the telephone the following Monday with people telling him the Isolation Nurse was at church.

The city's doctors, when they visited the hospital, seldom went inside. This, Miss Dobbs said, was quite understandable because she nearly always had scarlet fever patients and the doctors were all doing surgery and mid-wifery.

It was not uncommon for relatives of patients to phone Miss Dobbs and tell her they bring candies and other treats and would leave them on the fence. They would then ask Miss Dobbs to please not come out of the hospital while they were there but to wait until they had left before collecting the patients gifts.

After 10 years in the Isolation Hospital Miss Dobbs asked for a new pot and a new tablecloth as the ones she had were worn out. She was told there were two tablecloths when the hospital opened and "what happened to the other one?" She did not receive either a new pot or tablecloth so the first time she was able to get downtown she bought them herself. As a matter of fact, she bought many furnishing herself.

Then there was the time a doctor ordered Aspirin for his patient. Miss Dobbs phoned Dr. DeVeber with the request and received nothing but a voice of confidence and the blunt reply: "We can't afford that. You got them better before without Aspirin and you can do it again."

This occurred in 1913-14. Speaking of sedatives, Miss Dobbs said she used to use a hot bath and a good massage. The patient would be too tired to do anything else but sleep.

The smallpox patients were housed in a small shack behind the main hospital. There was no hot water in this shack and Miss Dobbs often made up to 30 trips a day carrying hot water for foments and compresses to treat these patients.

She took pride in her very capable work and was satisfied with the results of her efforts. Miss Dobbs recalled one school teacher whose face was completely covered with pox and didn't have one scar afterwards. ...
The year before the diphtheria ... was the worst year she can remember. ... she had 19 patients, the next year six cases, and then no diphtheria for the next six years.
During epidemics, Miss Dobbs would sometimes receive help from the Galt Hospital students. However, they rarely stayed very long.

Besides all her other work Miss Dobbs took on the added chore of training Galt students in the care of communicable diseases. This helped the nurses and at times served as a help to Miss Dobbs.

Asked if she was ever nervous when left alone, Miss Dobbs simply laughed and said the graveyard scared any strangers away and the Isolation Hospital scared everyone else away, so she had nothing to worry about.

In 1928 the department of health decided this old building was no fit abode for two women - out on a hill without even any trees for protection. So the hospital was moved to 1920 - 7th Avenue S. The building had been built years before as a children's shelter.
When attempts to sell the Isolation Hospital at the cemetery failed, it was demolished.
As long as she had a patient, Miss Dobbs never left the hospital, so for months on end she "stayed put". The "girl" could leave if they were out of quarantine but pot otherwise except for one afternoon every three months.

Miss Dobbs recalled in the 1930s when she had a few diphtheria patients that several doctors phoned her and asked if they could come to the hospital and examine the patients' throats as they had never seen a diphtheria throat.

At one time in this hospital Miss Dobbs had as many as 21 patients - polio, scarlet fever and measles - and just had her "girl" to help with the housekeeping, cooking and washing. There was no other help available and she just had to manage with the two of them.

During the 39 years Miss Dobbs worked at the Isolation Hospital she never had a sick day. "I didn't have time to be sick". One day one of the doctors felt she should be off with an acute throat but there was no relief so she just persevered and finally recovered.

Miss Dobbs retired in April 1950 at the age of 74. Still a going concern, and a very jolly individual, Miss Dobbs will be 88 June 11, 1966.

Following Miss Dobbs' retirement efforts to obtain a number of nurses to work in the Isolation Hospital failed.

In the summer of 1952 a polio outbreak made the situation critical and the Galt Hospital finally took over full control of the Isolation Hospital in July.
The Isolation Hospital still stands and is used as an apartment block under the name of Lou Arm Apartments.
Mildred Dobbs, a wonderful nurse and humanitarian passed away January 17, 1974.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
Record Information: Record Information Date:
WANG 1983/05/27


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-1343
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