Our History

A History of Caring


  • Winchester District Memorial Hospital was officially opened on December 8, 1948. The Hon. George Challies, MPP for Grenville-Dundas and the Hon. Rusell Kelly, Ontario Minister of Health presided. Over 3,000 people attended. Mr Kelly donated a Mansfield woollen blanket to the first baby born at the hospital. The local papers were quoted as saying it was "for the relief of Human suffering". The first patient on that day was 10-year old Glendon Loucks, who underwent minor surgery. Four days later on the 24th, the hospital registered its first birth, that of a little girl born to Mrs. Glenn Fetterly of Mountain. The two-storey building had 32 beds. Dr. Howard Justus was the first Chief of Staff. In the first year, staff and physicians treated 1300 patients and delivered 245 babies.
  • At the ceremony, a scroll bearing the names of boys in the district killed in WWII was erected. It was unveiled by Perley S. Boyd, clerk of the United Counties, who noted there was no better tribute to war heroes than a hospital.
  • Prior to this, on October 4, 1948, Ontario Minister of Health, the Hon. Rusell T. Kelley officiated at the “Laying of the Cornerstone” as part of final construction. Mr. Walter C. MacDonald, Chairman of the Hospital Board assisted. Close to 2,000 Winchester and district citizens attended and a parade throughout the town was planned.
  • Dr. J.J. McKendry is credited with starting the ball rolling when he sent a letter to the Editor of the Winchester Press in 1944 stating the need for a hospital in Winchester. He envisioned a 25-bed hospital.
  • Walter C. MacDonald became the first Chairman of the Board which was fitting since he was one of the most instrumental persons involved in the planning stages. He was chairman of the provisional council set up to finance and organize a hospital and when the hospital received its charter in 1946, he became Chairman of the Board. Other early Chairmen were: Wallace D. Carkner; W.J.L. Boyd; Eric Casselman; George Suffel; Howard Biccum; Stan Hicks; W.R. Workman; George E. Elliott and Ed Hanson.
  • On August 3, 1948, a small group of women met in the Town Hall to discuss the impact the hospital was to have on the entire community and the need for an “auxiliary” force to assist. Their efforts were led by Mrs. Chester Robinson. Mrs. George Elliott was the first secretary and Miss Nora Elliott handled the meagre finances at the time.
  • In 1955, a new administration wing was added at a cost of $36,000. In the same year, a blood bank was established.
  • In 1960, the first major expansion was complete, going from 35 to 89 beds at a cost of $700,000. The new south wing included medical, surgical and maternity beds, more and larger operating rooms, x-ray and lab facilities, a new delivery suite, a cafeteria, a modern kitchen, new laundry and board rooms, a new nurses lounge and a pharmacy.
  • Funds from the Harvey S. Dillabough estate made possible the construction of a $140,000 nurses’ residence. It was officially opened on October 21, 1964 by the Provincial Member for Grenville-Dundas, Mr. F. M. Cass.
  • In 1968, a $1.6 million expansion included a 35-bed chronic care unit, relocation of the dietary unit, a boiler room and the addition of a 16-bed paediatric unit.
  • In 1972, a new modern incinerator was built at a cost of $100,000.
  • In 1977, $225,000 was spent to create a new x-ray room, family lounge, pharmacy and nursing office. The bed count had increased to 120 beds.
  • In 1980, the Intensive Care Unit expanded to four beds at a cost of $105,000.
  • Five years later, a $600,000 project created a new state-of-the-art lab, a renovated x-ray department and emergency and out-patient departments.
  • In 1992, the HELP campaign raised funds for infrastructure changes such as ventilation systems, code upgrades and plumbing. Ten years later, the Renewing the Vision campaign was launched.
  • On March 27, 2009, the new Winchester District Memorial Hospital was officially opened, resulting in the most technologically-advanced facility in rural Ontario.
  • In 2013, a Community Care Building was built on the WDMH campus, providing access to other key health and community services close by for patients and families.
  • Today, WDMH is a hub site for cancer care, dialysis and cataract surgery and offer specialty clinics with visiting specialists from Ottawa hospitals.
  • In March 2016, the Community Care Building was expanded to double its size and welcome additional health and community services on the same site.