In New Westminster's first couple of years, medical attention for a serious injury or illness would likely have come from the Royal Engineers' medical officer, Dr. John Vernon Seddall.
The Engineers had a hospital building at their camp, and occasionally, if the need was urgent, a civilian was admitted.
While some medical attention was available in the town of a very simple and inconsistent nature, all recognized the need for a civilian system to care for the community's health.
What was needed was a hospital on the mainland so that those in serious need did not have to travel to Vancouver Island to the Royal Hospital in Victoria.
In an annual report, this was clearly referred to: "During the fall of 1861, the growing importance of the Colony, and the rapid increase of our population, especially in the mining season, suggested to many benevolent and philanthropic persons the great necessity that existed for a general hospital in the city of New Westminster."
The general hospital being discussed would be, in due course, the Royal Columbian. There were many meetings in the town, but the results were slow in coming.
Finally a committee of local gentlemen, consisting of Messrs. Cormack, Brown, Ramage and Robson, was established to "call upon Colonel Moody to obtain information as to the most available site for a hospital." The site selected was at the corner of Agnes Street and Clement Street (now Fourth Street).
In the early years of the Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH), many events were held to promote, in some manner, the new institution.
There were talks and meetings in many places in the colony including Lillooet and Port Douglas, discussing the vital need for the hospital and assisting with fundraising to address that need.
In New Westminster, the Royal Engineers' Club put on a benefit "theatrical entertainment" with all proceeds going to the RCH fund.
Throughout the first decades of the RCH, local newspapers regularly published lists of those who were donating to the cause.
These "subscription lists" identify members of the community and how much money they gave.
In one particular list we can see that the governor gave $100, the bishop of Holy Trinity gave $50, Robert Dickinson gave $1 per month, Presbyterian minister Rev. Jamieson gave $5, road builder G.B. Wright gave $25, Dr. W.S. Black gave $20, Gassy Jack Deighton gave $5, liquor merchants Picht and Hoyt gave $100, former Royal Engineer James Ellard gave $5 and the long list goes on.
There are many stories and images of the early hospital on the hillside show its modest beginning.
For more on this story come out to the New Westminster Historical Society program on Wednesday, April 18, at 7: 30 p.m. in the auditorium of the New Westminster Public Library.
Lots of pictures will enhance the story of the start of the Royal Columbian Hospital in 1862 - 150 years ago.