Providence Care’s services have rich histories and throughout Providence Care, there are ties back to our heritage and our Founders – the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. Our history demonstrates a long-standing commitment to the people of Kingston and southeastern Ontario.
Every year on December 13 we take the time to honour the contribution of four Sisters of Providence who made the journey to Kingston. Responding to an invitation from the Bishop to care for the sick, the elderly, the orphaned and the imprisoned, the Sisters arrived by train in the early morning hours on December 13, 1861. This day is celebrated annually as Founders’ Day.
The Sisters of Providence faced seemingly insurmountable challenges, and always found ways through the challenges to stay true to their mission to enhance quality of life. Now it is our turn, 161 years later, to continue to build on their history by providing high quality, compassionate care to those in our region who need it most.
Leading up to Founders Day, Providence Care’s rich history will be featured and we will reflect on the legacy of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, starting with St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital.
Providence Care has a long history of construction and renovation at our sites, as the needs of our community have evolved and changed over the years. Led by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul until divestment in 2007, some major projects include St. Mary’s of the Lake hospital. The original building, known as Hawthorne Cottage, was purchased by the Sisters of Providence in 1904. Additions to the building were made in 1910 and 1930 while the Sisters operated St. Mary’s of the Lake Orphanage from the site. A major renovation was completed in 1956, and then again in 1974.
The Beginnings: 1800’s – Early 1900’s
Originally owned by Emanuel Ellerbeck, St. Mary’s of the Lake land was passed from Richard Ellerbeck to Francis Archibald Harper and then to Daniel Rourk, who sold the property to Les Soeurs de la Congregation de Notre Dame de Montreal. Les Soeurs de la Congregation de Notre Dame de Montreal turned the property into a boarding school and renamed the site St. Mary’s of the Lake.
In 1904 the Sisters of Providence purchased St. Mary’s of the Lake from Les Soeurs de la Congregation de Notre Dame. In 1910, orphans from Providence Manor were moved to St. Mary’s of the Lake which remained an orphanage until the 1940s.
Growth and the War: 1920’s – 1950’s
By the 1930s, St. Mary’s of the Lake experienced a sharp decline in the number of orphans entering the institution, largely due to escalating intervention on behalf of the Children’s Aid Society.
At the start of the Second World War, St. Mary’s of the Lake was leased to the Canadian Department of National Defense for use as a military hospital. St. Mary’s of the Lake remained a general military hospital until May 31, 1946, when it was returned to the Sisters of Providence who decided to keep the site as a hospital for the chronically ill instead of reverting it back to an orphanage. From 1942-1946 it was known as the Kingston Military Hospital.
By 1947, there were 85 patients in the hospital and rates were $5 and $6 per day for private rooms, $3.50 for two-bed rooms, $3 for three-bed rooms, and $2 for a space in a ward holding between four and six beds. From 1947 until 1950, numerous additions were made to the hospital including the institution of an Occupational Therapy Department and the installation of X-ray equipment.
Development and Expansion: 1950’s – 1980’s
In 1954, the first expansion of the hospital was completed, adding a new wing and increasing St. Mary’s capacity to 200 beds. By 1959, the Ontario Hospital Care Insurance Program covered about 90% of the populace.
In the 1960s the Medical Services Insurance Act and Health Services and the Health Services Insurance Act removed a large burden of the debt of health costs and improved funding for medical resources.
In 1971, St. Mary’s of the lake became a part of the Queen’s University Affiliated Hospital Council (QUAFHOP) in order to further education, research, and health services. Other members included Queen’s University, Kingston General Hospital, the Hotel Dieu Hospital, the Kingston Psychiatric Hospital, and St. Lawrence College. In 1977 St. Mary’s added a dental office to the building.
Compassion and Discovery: 1980’s – Present Day
In the 1980s, the Sisters of Providence began to implement community outreach programs. In 1984 the Sisters made a request to the Ministry of Health to approve the construction of a facility at St. Mary’s that would accommodate 260 people instead of 200. Despite government cutbacks in the mid-80s, the Ministry of Health managed to approve a 4.7 million dollar budget for St. Mary’s of the Lake’s 3 to 5 year building project.
In 1984, Agnew Peckham and Associates completed Phase 1 of the planned expansion of St. Mary’s and presented it to the Ministry of Health. In 1988, St. Mary’s successfully reached the funding goal of 3.5 million dollars for the proposed expansion. The 1990s marked the first meeting of the Catholic Mission Effectiveness Committee and St. Mary’s of the Lake began providing care for former Ongwanada patients.
In 2006 the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul transferred the sponsorship of Providence Continuing Care Centre to the Catholic Health Corporation of Ontario. Also in 2006 the St. Vincent de Paul Hospital in Brockville was transferred to the Brockville General Hospital and Providence Continuing Care Centre changed its name to Providence Care.
In 2017, Providence Care opened Providence Care Hospital (PCH) – a 270-bed state-of-the-art care environment for patients and clients, bringing together the programs and services located at St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital and Mental Health Services (MHS) buildings.
St. Mary’s of the Lake site is now home to Providence Transitional Care Centre. The centre aligns perfectly with our vision to redefine care in aging, mental health and rehabilitation.
In 2021, the St. Mary’s of the Lake property was repurposed and is now the new home to Providence Transitional Care Centre (PTCC). PTCC Providence Transitional Care Centre is a 64 bed facility providing specialized inpatient services. The care is designed to promote and preserve wellness and functionality in older adults with a focus on transitioning people back to their home in the community when they’re ready.
To this day, 161 years later, Providence Care continues the legacy of our Founders, the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.
Sister Pauline Lally says
Beautifully written. I even learned a few things.