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St. Joseph's General Hospital Elliot Lake

Our History

The small town of Elliot Lake was once home to thousands of people looking for work in the booming uranium mines scattered in the surrounding area. The mining industry was led first by the Algom Quirke and Algom Nordic mines, followed closely by Consolidated Denison procession of mines. In the next two years, eight more mines developed, all remembered in Elliot Lake history in the form of street names and signs. By 1959 the population of Elliot Lake was nearing 25,000 and by the 1990s the population high was over 26,000. With the influx of population and the bustling mining industry bringing people in and out of the Elliot Lake area it was apparent that a hospital was needed to relieve the existing medical clinic, to keep citizens safe, provide medical care to injured miners, and to deliver the new generation of born Elliot Lakers.

St. Joseph’s Hospital, Elliot Lake Ontario - Construction 1959
St. Joseph’s Hospital, Elliot Lake Ontario
Sr. St. Camillus (Mary Tierney)

By the summer of 1957, Dr. James Ruse and Mr. Ed Blahey, citizens heavily involved in the mining companies, drove to meet the Sisters of St. Joseph. This conversation at the Motherhouse was the pivotal moment in the undertaking of the construction and operation of St. Joseph’s General Hospital Elliot Lake and by October of the same year a contract was signed to begin construction. Construction continued until 3:00PM on September 12, 1959, when St. Joseph’s General Hospital was officially opened. A notable presence at the opening ceremony was 65-year-old Sister St. Camillus (nee Mary Tierney) the first Administrator of St. Joseph’s General Hospital!

In 1984 in response to concerns raised by the mining companies and other major employers about increasingly high rates of substance use and alcoholism in Elliot Lake the Camillus Centre was opened in the converted area once recognized as the nurse’s residence. This initiative was led by Sister Jean Doyle and her compassion for the citizens of Elliot Lake and area carries to this day. In 1991 a hotel site was approved to be the new site of the expanded Camillus Residential Treatment Program and the Oaks Withdrawal Management Services, but it would be two more years before the project would be approved, but on September 20, 1994, the doors were opened to this greatly needed service.

The Oaks Centre
St. Joseph’s Manor

As the mines started to close and people began to leave the area to follow the industry it was apparent that the demographic of Elliot Lake was changing rapidly. This once noisy and active mining town had changed its tune to focus on promoting itself as a retirement community. This successful and profitable promotion also identified areas that were lacking, specifically regarding the care of an aging population who required long-term medical care and assistance in Elliot Lake, and in 1995 Sister Sarah Quackenbush and the Board of Directors began groundwork on what we now know to be the St. Joseph’s Manor. With construction beginning in 2001 and ending by November 2002, the St. Joseph’s Manor officially opened and has been a crucial part of St. Joseph’s General Hospital and has been duly committed to living the mission, vision, and values set out by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The unique history of Elliot Lake and surrounding area is almost unbelievable when you drive the streets today. The ever-changing demographic and landscape of this one-time mining town has allowed us to see incredible growth and resilience. St. Joseph’s General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Manor, and the Camillus/Oaks Centre recognize the hard work, dedication and compassion of its founders, and we are committed continuing their legacy through our values of Compassion, Humility and Harmony, Respect, Integrity, Social Responsibility, and the Sacredness of Life.

The Sisters arrive at the famous trailer, their temporary home
The Sisters of St. Joseph Sault Ste. Marie
Sister Ste. Camillus
Official Opening September 1983