The country around McLennan, Falher, Donnelly, Girouxville, and the surrounding area was opening up rapidly to farmers who had taken homesteads, and the fact that McLennan had become a railroad town made it stand out among the others. Father Cozanet, O.M.I., pastor of McLennan, begged the Sisters of Providence to open a hospital at McLennan to serve it and the surrounding area. The Sisters accepted.
Things moved rapidly. Sister Agapit de Bologne was named Superior, and arrived at McLennan with Sister Sosthene, Provincial Bursar, for the foundation of the Hospital on June 13, 1929. On June 30 excavations began for the building.
The Sisters arrived one after another so that everything would be in readiness when time came for the opening. In August, Sister Bernard de Marie arrived as Bursar to replace Sister Sosthene who was returning to the Provincial House in Midnapore. August 29, Sister Teresina, R.N., arrived. Then in October it was Sister Teresina, R.N., and finally Sister Jean Viateur, R.N.
All was ready for the official blessing and opening of the Hospital on December 17, 1929. Mgr. C. Joussard, O.M.I., did the honors. Dr. E.A. Braithwaite from the Department of Health, Edmonton, represented the Government at the ceremony.
Because of bad weather and intense cold, the N.A.R. had a special train to take the people of Girouxville, Falher and Donnelley, arriving at McLennan at 3 p.m. and returning at 8 p.m. There was Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament followed by a banquet. People returned home happy to have a hospital for their sick.
Sacred Heart Hospital had 21 patient beds. December 18, the day after the opening, 7 patients were admitted. During the first year there were 327 patients admitted and from then on the number kept increasing.
Times were hard in the hungry 30’s. Patients paid as best they could, when they could — many times with wood, hay or vegetables. It even happened that the hospital kept the mother to rebuild her strength, clothed the newborn, and Dr. Piche paid the mother’s fare back home. Though everyone had to watch where the pennies went, the hospital was able to function. The Ladies Auxiliary was a wonderful help with their bazaars and sales, and the people in general were generous.
From time to time an addition or improvement was made so that in 1952 the hospital was up to 37 beds with 1,618 admissions that year.
Sacred Heart Hospital having become overcrowded and the original building outdated, a new hospital was needed. It opened in 1955 with a 62-bed capacity and many modern conveniences.