A second book of photo history of Portage la Prairie is in the works. It's by the creators of the first volume, Historic Photography of Portage la Prairie. James Kostuchuk is working on the project with Greg Roberts, another local historian. He notes the first volume took us up to 1939 when the Royal Visit occurred, and became a fundraiser for local historical signage throughout the community.
"We are looking to have it published in time for the opening of the hospital because we're going to include the history of the hospital in the book," says Kostuchuk.
He explains he's learning quite a bit of the history of the Portage District General Hospital. He outlines its beginnings.
"The story that's appeared in secondary sources is that a train was coming through town in the 1880s," continues Kostuchuk. "There was a fellow on it who was really ill. So, some local women from the Church took him and got permission from the city. The courthouse was empty at that time -- the original courthouse. They moved him into the courthouse to look after him, and then they got this idea, 'Why don't we start a place where we can look after sick people in general?' And from that, the idea of a hospital came up."
He adds many other things surfaced in that research, that a person might not initially consider.
"I found a new story from the early 20th century, talking about getting water at the hospital," continues Kostuchuk. "It suddenly dawned on me; imagine doing surgeries and all the work that a hospital has to do, and you're having to boil all the water, carry it, pump it out of the ground, and then carry it in buckets."
He says we take easy access to water for granted, as well as sewer service. That wasn't the case at that time.
"Imagine the planning that would take," notes Kostuchuk. "You're going to have your surgery and you have to have sufficient water. Where are we going to put you afterward? Hospitals, really, at that time were a local affair. If you're really sick, you had to be transported to Winnipeg, presumably by train or wagon. By wagon, it would be quite a long journey if you're not feeling well."
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