Built as a symbol of national gratitude, Sunnybrook Hospital reminds us that the freedoms and liberties we enjoy as Canadians come at a price.
On the 25th anniversary of Armistice Day, 11 November 1943, a sod-turning ceremony was held in the western end of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Park, the location for what would become Canada’s largest and most modern veterans’ hospital. In attendance was Mrs. Esther Bailey. Her husband, Staff Sgt. Frank Bailey, was killed on 6 July 1940 in a German bombing raid on a Canadian military camp in England. He was the first man of the Canadian Army (Active) to lose his life in this war through enemy action.
On 26 September 1945, Private Raymond Scott became the first patient to enter the hospital. He was followed by a group of 87 walking patients and 14 who arrived on stretchers from the overcrowded military hospital on Christie Street. Their new home was in D-Wing, nicknamed Lancaster. Within the next few months wounded warriors began to find beds in C-Wing, nicknamed Spitfire.
Over 60 years later, Sunnybrook Hospital remains a living memorial to the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. It continues to be a place where bodies and minds can heal, and a place that Canadian veterans can proudly call home.
By Phil Gold