Before women even had the right to vote, a group of women built the first hospital in Belleville.
The legacy of the Women’s Christian Association was honoured Tuesday at Belleville General Hospital as the group wrapped up operations after 139 years.
The nine remaining members of the organization; Diane Sule, Alfreda Rupert, Mary Bould, Clara Davenport, Elaner Pound, Ann Hitchon, Audrey Williams Brown, Fran Knudson and Hiebert were on hand for the celebration.
Acting Chair Irene Hiebert said the determination of that founding group of women was such a force.
The group was created following the train tragedy in 1872 just east of Shannonville, where 40 people died.
Harriette Lyon Jacques led a group of women five years later to create the WCA, and to build a hospital and a home for the aged and underprivileged.
The hospital opened on July 20, 1886. It was then expanded in 1890, a school of nursing started in 1892, new wings added in 1911 and then again in 1918.
The BGH Auxiliary began in 1938 and in 1948 the WCA deeded the hospital to the city.
The bittersweet event was highlighted by a cheque donation from the WCA in the amount of $357,000 to the hospital for improvements to the Maternal Child Department (Quinte 7) at BGH.
Mary Clare Egberts, President and CEO of Quinte Health Care detailed some of what the funds would go towards.
Other improvements include an expanded working area, a storage room, installation of showers and improved security measures.
A commemorative bronze plaque was also unveiled that will be on display in the Hastings Main Entrance lobby.
Patricia Guernsey told those in attendance the WCA left a legacy that she isn’t sure will ever be replicated.