Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost

Nestled amidst the hills of the Haliburton Highlands in the hamlet of Wilberforce is Ontario's first Red Cross Outpost Hospital. Established in February of 1922, the Outpost was located in Wilberforce mainly as a result of efforts by Alfred Schofield, an inspector for the Children's Aid Society, who was alarmed by the lack of medical service in the area. The Canadian Red Cross, Ontario division, was contacted and agreed to provide a nurse and equipment, the local people organized the acquisition of the building and some furnishings, and the first Red Cross Outpost Hospital service was begun.

The Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost over the next four decades established itself not only as a haven providing medical services, but also became an integral part of the community. What began as a one-room treatment centre and the nurses' home, became a mini-hospital with three rooms to accommodate in-patients.

Nurses who served at the Wilberforce Outpost established themselves as valuable assets to the area, not only in their role at the Outpost but through participation in community activities. Indeed, the Outpost itself became more than a treatment centre, serving frequently as the site of card parties, various social activities, and the focal point of holiday gatherings.

Nurse Elsie Turner Metcalfe
Nurse Elsie Turner Metcalfe with Beatrice Herlihey and daughter Gloria Jane in the mid-forties.

In 1963 the Red Cross terminated its nursing services out of the Outpost and the building was deeded to the Monmouth Township and over the next few years served as a residence.

The building was vacant for a number of years prior to 1991 when it was leased to the Wilberforce Heritage Guild on the understanding that it was to be restored as a museum dedicated to the people who worked so hard to make Ontario's first Red Cross Outpost Hospital a reality.