Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Since 1899

How did we get here?

drawing of Chemainus Hospital 1904

Chemainus Hospital 1904

Ribbon Cutting, New Hospital

Ribbon Cutting – New Hospital

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary has been serving the community for over 120 years and we are the second oldest Auxiliary in B.C!  It was due to a typhoid epidemic in Chemainus, that a group of 28 caring women rallied to form a Hospital Auxiliary on September 25, 1899.  They used a home located on Chemainus Road, just south of the Horseshoe Bay Inn as a temporary hospital, where the Auxiliary provided bedding, bandages and other essentials until it’s closure in December, 1899.

A new 10 bed hospital was opened in May,1900, which was fully equipped by the Hospital Auxiliary, including all the furnishings for the rooms!  The Auxiliary also did all the sewing and mending of bedding, towels, drapes, nightwear and doctor’s gowns.  This was the only hospital between Victoria and Nanaimo until 1911 when the Convalescent Home in Ladysmith opened.

The Auxiliary remained active throughout the early 1900’s with their main fundraiser being the famous “Hospital Ball” held each year.  It was such a important event that a special train from Victoria brought many dignitaries including the Lieutenant Governor.

During WW1, regular meetings were discontinued but Auxiliary members assisted where needed; as ward maids, janitors, cooks and even accountants!

Fundraising means throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, included bazaars, concerts, and the ever popular Strawberry and Ice Cream Festival held on the grounds of the Chemainus Mill Manager’s home.

During the 1940’s and 1950’s, card parties were held, and holly was picked from the hospital grounds to be sold locally or shipped to various places.

From 1950 to present day, the Auxiliary has undertaken many forms of raising funds in order to supply both the Chemainus Health Care Centre and the Cowichan District Hospital with furnishings, equipment, and programs.  Some of these include: Barn Dances, Teas, Linen Showers, Christmas Corsage Tag Days, Fashion Shows, Baking/Plant/Craft sales, and a Giant Garage sale on the street. One fun event during this time, was the Hospital Musical Shows, that used all local talent and was a very popular event.


At present, the Auxiliary’s main source of raising funds has been our Thrift Shop.  It has been in operation in Chemainus since 1958, and the Auxiliary bought the building that currently houses the Thrift Shop in 1981. It is a successful enterprise that provides the means for most of our health care donations.

In addition to the Thrift Shop, our Auxiliary has provided many community services over the years, including:

  • Well Baby Clinics, Blood Donor Clinics, and Flu Clinics
  • Tea Service at the C.H.C.C.
  • Meals on Wheels sponsor
  • Gift Shop/Tuck Shop at the C.H.C.C.
  • Sunshine (providing Birthday cards, Christmas gift bags and
  • Welcome bags for C.H.C.C. residents)
  • Sponsoring the Candy Striper program at C.H.C.C.

The present members of the Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary are proud to carry on the work and tradition of our pioneer predecessors, and it is through the support of the people of Chemainus and surrounding communities, that we have been able to continue the important work of those who came before us.

A funny quote from one of our members:

“One day I was wearing the Auxiliary tee shirt that said “A CENTURY OF SERVICE, and a lady in the shop said to me, “Have you been working here that long?”

More Stories from the Past

A Stitch Through Time – Face Masks

A Stitch Through Time – Face Masks

Recently our volunteers have been asked to commit to sewing face masks that would be sold through our Thrift Shop​ to the public, as protection...

Mind Your Table Manners

Mind Your Table Manners

As a young child, I was mesmerized by the spiked green leaves, and brightly colored berries that donned our holiday table. But, did they ever...

Chemainus Health Care History 1900-2007

The Chemainus Health Care Foundation created a booklet outlining the history of Chemainus Health Care from 1900-2007. You may download it here.

“I think people forget that it doesn’t take a big donation to help someone, just a lot of little donations.”

Hannah Teter