In 1930, four Sisters traveled from Antigonish, Nova Scotia to purchase the Banff Hospital from the estate of Dr. Brett. In 1886, Dr. Brett along with the help of his sons and colleagues, started to deliver health services from a small cabin. Prior to this, health services were delivered from a CPR boxcar. The Sisters of St. Martha were amazing women dedicated to delivering high quality health care services to the community of Banff, the residents of the Bow Valley, and tourists who visited Banff National Park. These women were entrepreneurs. In 1938, they signed a contract to provide physical therapy treatments as well as use of the hot mineral waters for Worker’s Compensation Board patients from various parts of the province. In doing so, the Sisters helped increase revenue generation for the hospital.
Clinically, the Sisters were “On Lead” with treatments for arthritis, including the administration of cortisone in the late 1940s. The Sisters also established a School of Nursing and developed stringent standards of excellence for the care they provided.
The relationship between the people of this community and the Sisters of Saint Martha was one of respect and caring. The Sisters describe their relationship as a “covenant to work together for the health of the community.” For sixty-seven years, the Sisters and the people of Banff wove “an unbroken thread of support, cooperation and collaboration.”
Today, we are grateful to the Sisters of Saint Martha for their dedication of service and ministry to the sick and elderly. We applaud them for their establishment of clinical excellence and expertise and honour the opportunity to carry on not only the healing mission of Jesus, but also their entrepreneurial spirit. For the relationship that was established and continues with the people of this community, we acknowledge the Sisters. The standard of health care in Banff is what it is today because of the Sister’s influence – we cherish the memories they have given us.
In October 2003 the Mineral Springs Hospital rededicated the Continuing Care Unit – “St. Martha’s Place” in honour of the Sisters of Saint Martha and their contribution to health care in Banff .
The sponsorship of the Mineral Springs facility was transferred to the Alberta Catholic Health Corporation in 1987 and the last remaining Sisters left the hospital in 1997.
Today, the hospital’s staff and community are committed to continuing the work and privilege of healing that was carried out by the Sisters for so many decades. Their legacy continues as we work to realize our vision of being a “Centre of Excellence for Specialty Surgical and Emergency Care” while meeting the healthcare needs of our local community and beyond.