Indian hospitals

The term “Indian hospital” refers to a range of racially segregated institutions where some First Nations, Métis, and Inuit were sent for medical treatment. Even if these institutions did not exclusively offer treatment to First Nations, many were named as “Indian hospitals”. Some hospitals were located in or near Indigenous communities, and others in urban areas. Individuals could be sent to either. Many of these institutions started out as tuberculosis sanatoriums but later became general hospitals.

Hospital mandates changed over time. A particular institution may have served Indigenous peoples, the general population or both, at different times.

Harmful content

We acknowledge that archives can be sites of trauma for Indigenous peoples. Working with historical records that document experiences of genocide, assimilation, and oppression, as well as the inherent anti-Indigenous bias and offensive language in these records, can create feelings of distress, grief, and pain for researchers.

We encourage researchers to be informed and to place their well-being first.

Find support

  • National Indian Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419
  • Hope for Wellness Hotline 1-855-242-3310
  • Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society 1-888-403-3123
  • Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS) 1-800-721-0066 (reception@irsss.ca)

Please note

There are minimal records relating to individual patients, and any medical records will be restricted for privacy reasons. Most surviving records focus on the establishment, maintenance and administration of health services and the buildings. Some patient names can be found in these more general files, while some information about patient experiences can be found in published accounts or oral histories.

On this page

Before you start

The following information can help you in your search:

  • Name(s) of hospital, institution or ship
  • Location of hospital
  • Years of operation/time period

Places to look

Archival records

Records relating to hospitals are generally located in the following fonds:

  • Indian and Inuit Affairs Program sous-fonds (RG10)
  • Department of Health fonds (RG29)
  • Northern Affairs Program sous-fonds (RG85)

To search for these types of government records:

  • Go to Collection Search.
  • Select Advanced Search.
  • In the Database field, select Collections and Fonds.
  • In Any of these words, enter the RG number (such as RG10, RG29 or RG85) plus key words like:
    • Hospital (including the name of a specific institution)
    • Indian hospital
    • Sanatorium/sanatoriums
    • Clinic
    • Nursing station
    • Medical
    • Dental
    • Health Services

Search by hospital

Some hospitals had multiple names or multiple purposes. Try searching under different names or in hospitals that were not specifically for Indigenous peoples.

Alberta

  • Blackfoot Indian Hospital
  • Blood Indian Hospital
  • Charles Camsell Indian Hospital
  • Hobbema Indian Hospital
  • Morley Stoney Indian Hospital
  • Peigan Indian Hospital
  • Sarcee Indian Hospital

British Columbia

  • Coqualeetza Indian Hospital
  • Miller Bay Indian Hospital
  • Nanaimo Indian Hospital

Manitoba

  • Brandon Indian Hospital
  • Clearwater Lake Indian Hospital
  • Dynevor Indian Hospital
  • Fisher River Indian Hospital
  • Fort Alexander Indian Hospital
  • Norway House Indian Hospital
  • Percy E. Moore Hospital

New Brunswick

  • Tobique Indian Hospital

Northwest Territories and Nunavut

  • Fort Norman Indian Hospital
  • Fort Simpson Indian Hospital
  • Frobisher Bay Indian Hospital
  • Inuvik Indian Hospital

Ontario

  • Lady Willington Indian Hospital
  • Manitowaning Indian Hospital
  • Moose Factory Indian Hospital
  • Sioux Lookout Indian Hospital
  • Squaw Bay Indian Hospital

Quebec

  • Parc Savard

Saskatchewan

  • Fort Qu'Appelle Indian Hospital
  • North Battleford Indian Hospital

Yukon

  • Whitehorse Indian Hospital

Ships providing medical services

To assert Canadian sovereignty, the federal government sent yearly patrol ships, known as the Eastern Arctic Patrol, to the North from the 1920s to the 1960s. They brought supplies, provided medical and dental care, and transported Indigenous people to southern Canada for medical treatment. The patrol was led by a public servant and included federal staff, the RCMP and medical personnel.

Records relating to these ships can be found in the Northern Affairs Program sous-fonds (RG85); Eastern Arctic Patrol records in the Health Canada fonds (RG29); and in some series of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds (RG22). They can be searched using the following keywords:

  • By ship (for example)
    • Eastern Arctic Patrol
      • Nascopie
      • CD Howe
  • By medical professional (doctors, nurses, dentists) (for example):
    • Arthur H. Tweedle
    • Bruce Hemmerich

Photographs

A collection of 10,000 images of hospitals can be found in the following sous-fonds:

Department of Health fonds (R227), Medical Services Branch sous-fonds, Medical Services Branch Photographs

  • Series 1: Services offered by the First Nations and Inuit Health Programs (formerly Indian and Northern Health Services) in locations across Canada.
  • Series 2: Services offered by various divisions within the Medical Services Branch, including the First Nations and Inuit Health Programs (formerly Indian and Northern Health Services).
  • Series 3: Photos of various national health conferences, medical services provided by First Nations and Inuit Health Programs (formerly Indian and Northern Health Services).

Series 1 and 2 include photos of medical facilities (Indian Hospitals and nursing stations), procedures, staff, patients, and living conditions in surrounding First Nations and Inuit communities.

Only a small portion of these photographs have been digitized. They may or may not include the names of patients.

Warning

These images can be considered disturbing, and they may have been taken without the consent of the individuals depicted.

Published sources

There are many published stories, both academic and personal, about these hospitals. You can search the library catalogue, Aurora, to find these publications. Try keywords like “Indian hospitals” plus:

  • [The names of institutions]
  • [The names of associated medical professionals]
  • Testimonies
  • Oral histories
  • Local histories
  • Journals
  • Annual reports

Particularly relevant publications include:

Access the records

There are restrictions on accessing hospital records held at LAC. Please see accessing restricted documents to learn how to consult these records. If a record is restricted, you can submit a request to our Access to Information and Privacy Division.

Digitized records

If you find a record of interest, there may be a digital image. Some of these are available through Collection Search. Others, particularly digitized microfilms, are available through Héritage.

Records that are not digitized

For records that are not digitized and not restricted, you will need to see them in person. If you cannot visit us in person, you may want to order copies or hire a researcher.

Related resources

If you were referred to a specialist, there may be additional information found in provincial or territorial organizations. Not all of the records that LAC holds are located in the National Capital Region. Some records are in Winnipeg and Vancouver.