I’ve recently made the acquaintance of Gordon Poppy. He is 89 years old and he shared with me that he was born at the B.C. Maternity Hospital in the community of Cedar Cottage (in what was then within the Municipality of South Vancouver but today is part of the City of Vancouver). When I told Gordon that I’d never heard of that hospital before, he said it is still standing, although it seems currently to be a single family dwelling.
This called for a field trip to Beatrice Street to photograph the property and not a small amount of desk research. At the end of the day, however, I don’t have much to show for my work on this project. Here are the facts I’ve been able to dig up:
- In 1920, 4430 Beatrice St. seems to have been the residence of Samuel J. Brown. (The building was vacant in 1921).
- B. C. Maternity Hospital was initially listed in the Vancouver directory in 1922 and was shown for the last time in the 1930 issue (at 4430 Beatrice St. for all of the hospital’s 8-year lifespan).
- Mrs. Mary Ann Butters (1861-1946) is listed in the 1920s issues of Vancouver directory as the “Matron” and as resident at “B. C. Maternity Hospital”.
- After the hospital evidently closed sometime in 1930 (Mrs Butters would have been just shy of her 70th birthday that year), it was occupied by members of the Wedgbury family (Lily Wedgbury was Mary Butters’ daughter) and by Mary Butters for the rest of her days. She died in 1946 at the age of 85.
- I hunted for a long time to find an ‘official’ mention of B. C. Maternity Hospital. Neither staff at the City of Vancouver Archives nor librarians at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library had heard of the institution nor had they any record of it in their holdings.
Finally, today, while doing a last bit of due diligence, I happened across a mention within the Proceedings of the 30th Annual Convention of the B. C. Hospitals’ Association, August 19-22, 1930. On p.193 of this document in the “List of Licensed Private Hospitals” in the province, Mrs. M. Butters appears as the “licensee” of “B. C. Maternity Home” (note: not shown here as “Hospital”). The list is interesting not only for its inclusion of B. C. Maternity Home, but also for listing several other institutions which were new to me (see below), such as Fairview Convalescent Home and Chatham House Private Hospital (these two were located within a block of each other on West 15th Avenue).
It looks like 4430 Beatrice was a single family dwelling before becoming B.C. Maternity Hospital (according to some accounts, the house was built in 1905, at which time, this section of Beatrice Street was called Banks Avenue). Evidence suggests that as of the early 1930s, the former hospital reverted to being a private residence. As of 1955, the Wedgbury family was still showing in the Vancouver directory as occupying the property (Mrs Butters daughter, Lily Wedgbury, died that year).