Charles Camsell Hospital

12804 114 Avenue, Edmonton

In 1914, the Jesuits built the Francis Xavier Academy in what is now Edmonton’s Inglewood neighbourhood. The Academy, a school for young boys, was used in WWII as a base for American Army Engineers while they built the Alaska Highway.

After the war, the Canadian government decided to use the property, which had grown to include several outbuildings, as a tuberculosis (TB) hospital for Indigenous peoples from the north.

Patients began arriving late in 1945; the hospital officially opened in August 1946. The original building was used until 1967 when the building that currently stands on the property was opened. The old college was destroyed.

Government agents and medical teams flew into northern communities, sometimes forcibly removing those with TB, ostensibly due to the highly contagious nature of the disease. The use of force did not end there, as patients were often subject to inhumane procedures such as experimental surgeries, forced sterilizations, and drug testing without consent. There are many stories of patients being abused and the emotional trauma of being taken away from their homes was debilitating.

Not everybody made it home from the Camsell. Some families from northern communities are still looking for their loved ones in hospital records across Canada. Many of the Camsell’s former patients are buried at the Aboriginal Cemetery in St. Albert.

During the 1970s the need for a dedicated tuberculosis hospital slowly declined. The Camsell became a general hospital until it was decommissioned in 1993. The building has stood empty ever since, but its history still haunts Indigenous peoples.

More Information and Resources

Charles Camsell Hospital fonds, edm-1518, City of Edmonton Archives

Ghosts of Camsell

Eugenics Archives: Charles Camsell Indian Hospital

UAlberta Law: Edmonton's Own Hospital of Horrors

Royal Alberta Museum: Camsell Collection

Comments

Allen Douglas Bolio - 06 Jul 2021

Was there till 18mths got brought to Saddle Lake AB

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Allen Douglas Bolio - 06 Jul 2021

Born MAY 01 1952

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Allen Douglas Bolio - 06 Jul 2021

Born May 01 1952

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Allen Douglas Bolio - 06 Jul 2021

Born May 01 1952 from NWT now known as Allen John Pasquayak raised in Saddle Lake AB Parents PIERRE and MARGARET PASQUAYAK

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henry - 22 Jul 2021

i would like to know if you would contact me im looking to buy the old hospital thanks 682-444-2791

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Era: The Post-War Years
Themes: Government
Cultural Groups: Aboriginal
Area: Northwest

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