History of Health in Saskatchewan: An Interactive Timeline

This research explores historical events that have played a role in impacting Saskatchewan residents’ health, healthcare, and standards of social and economic living over the past century. This study, a Baseline Analysis of Past Health Inequities, is part of a larger SPHERU project, The Origins and Import of Health Inequities in Saskatchewan, 1905-1985, that is focused on reducing current health inequities by addressing their historical underlying origins, with a specific focus on inequities experienced by vulnerable, minority and isolated populations. The basis of this timeline is to paint a comprehensive picture of the history of health and health-related events that have occurred in Saskatchewan. Including a wide spread umbrella of entries that have affected the health of Saskatchewan residents, this timeline features social determinants, formal legislation, technological interventions and medical breakthroughs, widespread epidemics and changing healthcare practices. Dates and descriptions of events are chronologically ordered to create a story that begins with Saskatchewan’s entry into Confederation in 1905 and spans eighty years to 1985.

This timeline serves as a tool for knowledge translation. The easily scrollable events are practical for use by students, educators and fellow researchers. Additionally, some events provide links to secondary websites that offer a more in-depth discussion of the event. As we are continuously working to improve our tools for knowledge translation, we welcome your feedback and will respond to any questions, concerns or comments via email at spheru.timeline@uregina.ca.;xNLx;

1780-01-01 12:16:38

Category Legend

The events of this timeline are separated into categories which adhere to a specific colour code. Please refer to the attached image for the category legend.

1781-12-21 22:46:06

CUMBERLAND HOUSE: FIRST DOCUMENTED HOSPITAL IN THE REGION THAT WOULD SOON BE SASKATCHEWAN

Fur trading community, Cumberland House, organizes itself a “de facto” field hospital for First Nations as an outbreak of small pox spreads over the winter of 1781-1782.

1847-03-15 05:31:30

AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION ESTABLISHED

With medical diplomas easily attainable (even by mail) there are valid concerns about the general competence of many medical practitioners. The explicit purpose of the establishment of the AMA is to exclude “diploma doctors” and streamline the criteria needed to practice medicine in the United States.

1867-11-26 15:01:19

CONSTITUTION ACT, 1867

Formerly the British North America Act, the enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 on March 29th established Canada as an independent nation. The Act outlines the division of powers between the Federal and Provincial governments. Under the Constitution, Provincial governments are allotted the authority over “The Establishment, Maintenance, and Management of Hospitals, Asylums, Charities, and Eleemosynary Institutions in and for the Province, other than Marine Hospitals”, while the Federal government retains power in the areas of quarantine and the establishment/maintenance of marine hospitals. To view the most recent consolidation of the Act, click "Find out more".

1869-11-26 15:01:19

COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS CREATED IN ONTARIO

The College is organized to control the licensing of medical practitioners in the province and professionalize the field of medicine. This excludes alternative practitioners and healers, such as herbalists and midwives, from the realm of officially accepted medical care.

1873-11-22 16:39:26

ILE A LA CROSSE: FIRST PERMANENT HOSPITAL

Three Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns) - sisters Agnes, Boucher, and Pepin - begin the formal operation of the first permanent hospital in the region.

1874-11-22 16:39:26

ADULTERATION ACT

During the 1800’s it becomes common practice for food wholesalers and retailers to add contaminants to food for profit gains. The federal 1874 Adulteration Act is intended to maintain the quality of the national food supply by protecting consumers from “adulterated” food. Operating under this Act, Canada’s food safety system is formed by the early 20th century.

1875-01-01 12:16:23

FORT WALSH: SITE OF THE FIRST LAY HOSPITAL

A building is set aside as a hospital during the construction of the North-West Mounted Police barracks at Fort Walsh. This is the first documented permanent hospital in the region that is not affiliated with a religious institution.

1880-01-01 12:16:23

THE EARLIEST CASES OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS REPORTED IN CANADA

Canadian physician and professor, Dr. William Osler, reports the first cases of multiple sclerosis in Canada. Dr. Osler presents clinical and pathological observations of three cases to Montreal’s Medico-Chirugical Society. He believes these cases represent the early, advanced, and end-stages of the disease.

1885-05-10 06:00:32

MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS ORDINANCE

Passed by the Canadian Parliament requiring all doctors across the country to register their practices. Within a decade, the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario gains control of licensing procedures across Canada.

1885-09-16 23:44:40

FIRST REGISTERED DENTIST IN SASKATCHEWAN

Frederick David Shaw officially registers as a dental practitioner with the North West Territories government becoming the first to do so in the land soon to become the province of Saskatchewan. Shaw applies in Regina for permission to open a practice and previously served in what are now Fort McLeod, Pincher Creek, and Lethbridge.

1889-09-16 23:44:40

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES GENERAL HOSPITAL IN MEDICINE HAT CONSTRUCTED

Residents of the city of Regina requiring hospital care are initially forced to go east to Brandon or Winnipeg for service. In 1889, the first general hospital in the Northwest Territories (at Medicine Hat) opens with “forty beds and a $5 hospitalization (insurance) option.” By 1895, patients form Regina account for 1,623 days of in-patient care.

1892-09-16 23:44:40

NORTHWEST PHARMACEUTICAL ASSOCIATION FORMED

Created in Regina, the Association acts as the legal and professional council in the prairies with regard to drugs and their medical dissemination.

1898-08-03 05:22:23

COTTAGE HOSPITAL OPENS IN REGINA

After relying on the Mary E. Truesdell Nursing home as a location to provide basic medical care in Regina, the Saskatchewan Branch of the National Council of Women begin to raise money for the construction of a more adequate facility. Thanks to this fund-raising effort the Regina Cottage Hospital opens its doors in 1898, staffed with nurses from the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON).

1900-01-01 20:06:36

1900 - 1910 STATISTICS

1902-03-03 06:25:50

SMALLPOX EPIDEMIC IN THE NORTHWEST

Smallpox epidemic ensues in Red Deer, Island Lake, and Little Hunter’s Reserve. A quarantine is enforced and full rations supplied by the government agents in the area. Clothes are also burnt and replaced by local mission.

1902-04-08 02:14:27

CANADIAN DENTAL ASSOCIATION CREATED

Nearly three hundred and fifty practicing dentists - approximately twenty percent of all dentists in Canada - gather in Montreal to create a formal constitution for the institution of the Dominion Dental Council, later known as the Canadian Dental Association.

1905-01-01 12:16:38

PROVINCIAL GENERAL ELECTION

On December 13th, Saskatchewan held its first provincial general election.

1905-06-06 22:21:06

WALTER SCOTT IS NAMED SASKATCHEWAN'S FIRST PREMIER

As Saskatchewan’s first Premier, Walter Scott uses the co-operative model to assist farm families and to build and maintain the rural telephone system and the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company. The Scott government also implemented government-controlled liquor stores, the first step towards full prohibition. Less well-known is that during his time as Premier, Scott suffered from depression. Click on "Find out more" to hear Brad Wall, Saskatchewan’s 17th Premier, elected in the November 2007 election, discuss Scott’s hardships in dealing with mental illness.

1905-11-05 03:17:54

SASKATCHEWAN BECOMES A PROVINCE

Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier visits Regina on “Inauguration Day”, September 4, 1905 to celebrate Saskatchewan’s entry into Confederation.

1906-01-01 20:06:36

Medical Profession Act

An Act respecting the Medical Profession. Where the 1906 Statutes of Saskatchewan states: “there shall be a college of physicians and surgeons for the Province of Saskatchewan hereinafter called “The College,” and the members of the said college shall be a body corporate under the name of “The College of Physicians and Surgeons” of succession and a common seal with power to sue and be sued, contract and be contracted with and to acquire, hold and dispose of real estate and chattel property for the purposes of the said college” (Chapter 28, p.2)

1906-01-01 20:06:36

TREATY 10 SIGNED WITH FIRST NATIONS IN NORTHWEST SASKATCHEWAN

Treaty 10 was a pact between the Government of Canada and the Saskatchewan Native population. The Treaty called on the Native populations, predominantly Cree and Chipewyan peoples, to surrender the lands they inhabited. In return, the Government would provide them with reserve land, education and farming supplies. As well, they were permitted to hunt, trap and fish freely with no restrictions. The agreement also stated that all band members would receive an annual cash payment of $5. Over a hundred years later, band members still receive the agreed upon amount of $5/year, forever linking past to present.

1906-08-03 05:22:23

SASKATOON TYPHOID EPIDEMIC

With a deadly epidemic of typhoid ravaging the population of Saskatoon, the eight beds of the Nurse Sisley Nursing Home quickly fill up and cots are set up in the surrounding buildings and open grounds. This obviously inadequate response leads, in part, to the construction and opening of Saskatoon City Hospital (with 56 beds) in April of 1909. The hospital, along with further additions, lasted until 1993 when it moved to its present location.

1906-11-05 03:17:54

REGINA IS DECLARED CAPITAL CITY OF SASKATCHEWAN ON MAY 23

At this point, the population of Saskatchewan is 257,763, with 48,462 residents living in urban centers (18.8%) and 209,301 residents living in rural areas (81.2%).

1906-11-05 03:17:54

DR. MAURICE M. SEYMOUR IS APPOINTED SASKATCHEWAN'S FIRST PROVINCIAL HEALTH OFFICER

Prior to relocating to Saskatchewan, Dr. Seymour completed his medical degree at McGill University in 1879 and subsequently became one of the first physicians in Canada to receive a diploma in public health from the University of Toronto. Determined to bring public health awareness to Saskatchewan, Dr. Seymour travelled across North America studying issues related to public health, hospital construction, and hospital management. He went on to spend the rest of his professional life in charge of public health in Saskatchewan.

1907-01-01 12:16:38

DOCTOR REPORTS ON THE MORTALITIES OF THOSE WHO ATTENDED THE FILE HILLS RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL

Dr. Peter Bryce – medical officer for the Department of Indian Affairs – reports that 69% of those individuals who previously attended the File Hills residential school on the Little Black Bear Reserve are dead, the majority from tuberculosis. Residential schools were a prominent means for the transmission of disease, especially tuberculosis. Since schools were funded on a per capita basis and due to the ubiquity of tuberculosis within the schools, children were only sent home upon impending death; consequently spreading disease to the reserve.

1907-11-05 03:17:54

HATCHET LAKE BAND ADHERES TO TREATY 10

With the exception of the Dakota population who remain outside of treaty, the entire First Nations population in Saskatchewan is now officially under treaty.

1908-01-01 12:16:38

PROVINCIAL GENERAL ELECTION

The province's second general election is held on August 14th.

1908-11-05 03:17:54

FIRST ACADEMIC PHARMACY PROGRAM IN SASKATCHEWAN

The University of Saskatchewan’s Faculty of Arts and Science creates the provinces first academic pharmacy program. 22 students are initially enrolled under the auspices of Dean Alexander Campbell. Initially a one year program but expands to two years in 1924 and then four years to compete with other academic institutions.

1908-11-05 03:17:54

DR. DAVID LOW RECOMMENDATION

Regina’s Dr, David Low is sent by Saskatchewan Premier Walter Scott in 1907 to visit mental hospitals in Eastern Canada and the United States for the purpose of providing recommendations on the provision of mental health care in the province. Upon his return in 1908 Low recommends small, humane psychiatric hospitals (dubbed the “cottage system”) but is overruled by Toronto psychiatrist Dr. C.K. Clarke, another advisor to Premier Scott. Low’s proposal is deemed too revolutionary for its time. Instead, contrary to Low’s advice, two large-scale institutions are constructed in North Battleford and Weyburn.

1909-11-05 03:17:54

RURAL MUNICIPALITIES ACT

The rapid initial population growth of the province, settling mostly in rural areas, leads to increased concerns about the availability of medical services as well as issues of adequate sanitary facilities and the rapid spread of contagious diseases. The 1909 Rural Municipalities Act allows municipalities to raise revenue through a general land tax to pay for their new responsibilities, under the Act, of improving the living conditions of residents and caring for the needy within their boundaries.

1909-11-05 03:17:54

PUBLIC HEALTH ACT

An Act respecting the Public Health. Where the 1909 Revised Statutes of Saskatchewan states: “The commissioner shall take cognisance of the interests of health and life among the people of Saskatchewan; he shall especially study the vital statistics of Saskatchewan and shall use to the best advantage the collected records of death and of sickness among the people; he shall make sanitary investigations and inquiries respecting the causes of disease and especially of epidemics, the causes of mortality and the effects of localities, employments, conditions, habits and other circumstances upon the health of the peoples; he shall make such suggestions and take such steps as to the prevention and suppression of contagious and infectious diseases as he shall deem most effective and proper and as will prevent and limit as far as possible the rise and spread of disease; he shall inquire into the measures which are being taken by any board of health for the limitation of any dangerous contagious or infectious disease or the performance of any duty through powers conferred upon such boards by this or any other Act and should it appear that no efficient measures are being taken or that the said powers or duties are not being exercised it shall be the duty of the commissioner in the interests of public health to require such board to exercise and enforce any case demands and in any such case where such board after request by the commissioner may with the approval of the minister exercise and enforce at the expense of the city, town or such portion of any health district as is a village or rural municipality any of the powers of boards of health which under the cirumstances the commissioner may consider necessary; and the commissioner shall when required or when he deems it best advise officers of the government and boards of health in regard to the public health and as to the means to be adopted to secure the same and as to the location, drainage, water supply, disposal of excreta, heating and ventilation of any public institution of building” (Chapter 16, p. 4)

1910-11-05 03:17:54

1910 - 1920 STATISTICS

1910-11-05 03:17:54

CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY ANTI-SPITTING CAMPAIGN

The fight against the germ causing tuberculosis starts at the turn of the 20th century. New municipal bylaws forbid spitting, dripping raw milk out of common tanks, and public drinking cups in hotels. Streets were to be wetted down to prevent blowing dust from spreading bacteria, food was to be covered, and milk to be sold in sealed bottles. In 1910, the Canadian Pacific Railway initiates an anti-spitting campaign on its lens and provides paper cups in its cars.

1910-11-05 03:17:54

SANATORIA FOR THE TREATMENT OF EARLY CASES AND HOSPITALS FOR THE ADVANCED CASES OF TUBERCULOSIS

A private act in response to treatment of the tuberculosis epidemic. The act was submitted to government officials by a group of individuals who would become the the Anti-Tuberculosis League. The League advocated for much needed institutions that were necessary for the treatment and housing of TB patients. Seven years later, the Fort Qu’Appelle Santatorium is opened and operated by volunteers and members of the Anti-Tuberculosis League.

1911-11-05 03:17:54

SASKATCHEWAN HAS THE THIRD LARGEST POPULATION IN CANADA

1911-11-05 03:17:54

HOMEMAKERS' CLUBS ARE FORMED ACROSS THE PROVINCE

Homemakers’ Clubs spring up to advocate for better living conditions, especially in rural and isolated areas of Saskatchewan.

1911-11-05 03:17:54

FREE TYPHOID VACCINE DISTRIBUTED THROUGHOUT THE PROVINCE

1911-11-05 03:17:54

CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION ESTABLISHED

The College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario create the Canadian Medical Association in order to influence national public health measures and policy. Past Conservative Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Charles Tupper (1896), is one of the organization’s founding fathers.

1911-11-05 03:17:54

SASKATCHEWAN ANTI-TUBERCULOSIS LEAGUE IS FORMED

The Anti-TB League is established at general meeting held at the King’s Hotel in Regina on February 17, 1911. The League assembled to combat the increasingly widespread and deadly disease of tuberculosis. At this time, tuberculosis or the “white plague” is the leading cause of illness and death in the province. The league seeks to educate the public on the severity of the plague, as well as provide basic care for TB patients. A fundamental goal of the League is to implement free, government provided treatment for tuberculosis patients. Several years later, and much to the success of the League, the province begins distributing free TB treatment.

1912-11-05 03:17:54

PROVINCIAL GENERAL ELECTION

The third provincial general election is held on July 11th.

1912-11-05 03:17:54

REGINA TORNADO SWEEPS THROUGH THE CAPITAL CITY

Cyclone leaves 28 dead, 500 buildings destroyed, and 2500 residents homeless on June 30, 1912.

1912-11-05 03:17:54

CANADA MEDICAL ACT

Canadian Conservative government under Prime Minister Robert Borden (1911-1920) passes the Canada Medical Act in 1912 which gives the Canadian Medical Association the power to control licensing procedures for medical practice across the country.

1912-11-05 03:17:54

ONLY 1 IN 20 BIRTHS OCCUR IN HOSPITALS IN SASKATCHEWAN

1913-11-05 03:17:54

REPORT OF A PRELIMINARY AND GENERAL SOCIAL SURVEY OF REGINA IS RELEASED

The report is the outcome of a Canada-wide social survey movement that sought to determine basic infrastructure and population statistics, information regarding the ethnicity of residents, the political presence in urban centers, and identify public health issues and problem areas of larger cities. SPHERU Researcher, Dr. Tom McIntosh, looks into some of the variables outlined in the 1913 Report and evaluates their continued existence in today’s society.

1913-11-05 03:17:54

WOMEN'S GRAIN GROWER'S ASSOCIATION IS FORMED AND MEMBERS ELECT VIOLET MCNAUGHTON, A FARM WOMAN FROM HARRIS, AS PRESIDENT

The Association is an advocate for many health and social issues and services, including women’s right to vote.

1914-11-05 03:17:54

FEDERAL DAIRY CATTLE TESTING PROGRAM

Responding to farmer’s demands, the federal government offers a free cattle testing program for larger Canadian centres. Due to its progressive dairy policies at the time, Saskatoon becomes the first city in Canada to be allowed to take advantage of the program. By the end of March 1918, three of the four testing centres are in Saskatchewan. The program is important in the fight against tuberculosis.

1914-11-05 03:17:54

THE RM OF SARNIA FUNDS ITS OWN DOCTOR

Residents of the rural municipality do not have the finances to support the medical services of local physician, Dr. Schmitt. In response, the RM of Sarnia pools money to keep the doctor available for its residents. This marks the first time in North America that a Doctor is hired and paid by a community.

1914-11-05 03:17:54

SASKATOON ENACTS CANADA'S FIRST PASTEURIZATION BY-LAW

After 58 infants die in April 1913 from consuming impure milk, 12 dairies are closed in Saskatoon by the city health department. In response to this tragedy the city enacts a pasteurization by-law, the first of its kind in Canada.

1914-11-05 03:17:54

THE SASKATCHEWAN HOSPITAL IN NORTH BATTLEFORD OPENS IN FEBRUARY

It is the first hospital in Saskatchewan designed for the treatment of the mentally ill. The hospital serves more than 325 patients within the first four months. Dr. J. W. MacNeil focuses on occupational therapy to cure patients, and hydrotherapy and electrotherapy to treat them.

History of Health in Saskatchewan: An Interactive Timeline

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