History of the
Western Kings Memorial Health Centre
After World War One, there was a community desire to build a living memorial to those who had served as well as those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice from the communities of Western Kings County. Some suggestions from the community were a standing memorial, gymnasium, library, or community hall. At that time, the closest hospitals were located in Windsor and Halifax, therefore, the provincial government suggested a memorial hospital be built to alleviate the suffering of those in the area and save lives.
The Western Kings Memorial Hospital opened on June 3, 1922. Rev. G. P. Raymond, President of the Hospital Association said that "the hospital was born out of a time of distress and sorrow, and it had been made possible by two factors: the enthusiasm of those who organized the opening of the hospital and the very generous contribution of S. B. Chute." Sam Chute's contribution of $10,000 accounted for a quarter of the development of the hospital and maintenance costs for over six months. Sam was known to have pioneered the extensive use of commercial fertilizers during the 1890s while increasing his acreage of apple orchards. After the official opening ceremony, the hospital opened for work the next week with Miss Mina Neily as Superintendent. To build, equip, and run the hospital for its first six months, it came to a total cost of $38,000.
The 'New Wing' of the Western Kings Memorial Hospital was opened on December 12, 1951. The people of Western Kings County needed a new memorial for another list of those who passed during the Second World War. To many, the current hospital had served the community well but now was out-of-date and too small. It cost $101,000 to build the entire new wing.
For sixteen years the New Wing together with the original building served the sick of Western Kings. However, conditions in the Annapolis Valley had changed dramatically- the expanding population, the need for newer and more sophisticated equipment to keep pace with medical advances, and both patients and equipment needed more space.
The first sod turning took place on May 2nd, 1966, and construction was complete and opened on November 14th, 1967. It was then well-equipped, spacious, and a large stake in the community of Western Kings County. The new hospital cost $1,220,000 and fundraising was carried out in various manners over the life of the hospital- "Princess campaigns," hospital auxiliaries, and Junior Red Cross all contributed to the fundraising.
In May 1995 the Deputy Minister of Health visited the Western Kings Memorial Health Centre and announced its closure. It was set to close in March 1996. A community meeting at the Berwick School gathered a crowd of 1,200 people to discuss the closure.
In October 1996 the Western Kings Memorial Health Society was formed after concerned community members wanted to make a difference and re-open the building. In December 1996, the Health Society took over ownership of the building and renamed it the Western Kings Memorial Health Centre.