On November 27, 1924, the Civic Hospital opened its doors to great fanfare. The world had just emerged from a pandemic and the community rallied together to make this new hospital a reality.

Though he was roundly ridiculed at the time, Mayor Harold Fisher pushed hard for the construction of the Civic and for a thoroughly progressive vision of medicine. 

That defining moment in history went on to improve the lives of every citizen of Ottawa and helped lay the foundation for a century of healthcare advances in Canada.

Today, we have our own ambitious plans to help reshape the future of healthcare and create a better tomorrow, together. From now until November 27, 2024 — the Civic’s 100th birthday — we will look back at 100 unique moments from the past century. 


Celebrating 100 moments

  • 2019

    63/100 – A night ride, a grueling fight, and a second chance

    A snowy December ride in 2019 turned serious for Travis Vaughan when his snowmobile crashed, leaving him critically injured in a field with a badly broken leg. Travis called 911, but eventually the cold won out, and his phone died. Though he was bleeding profusely and in pain, he refused to give up and started crawling home, his dog by his side the whole time.

    He eventually made it home, where his wife, Jenn, called for help and his brother, Tyler, made a tourniquet to stop the bleeding from his leg. When paramedics arrived, they stabilized Travis and rushed him to the Ornge air ambulance. The helicopter couldn’t land due to rough terrain, so they met him on the nearby road. Every moment mattered.

    At The Ottawa Hospital’s Trauma Centre, a skilled team led by Dr. Allan Liew awaited. Multiple surgeries were performed, including a complex bone graft by Dr. Geoff Wilkin, using bone from Travis’ pelvis.

    The road to recovery was tough, but with family support and the hospital’s excellent care, Travis defied the odds. He learned to walk again, and in October 2021, their life took a joyful turn – Travis and his wife welcomed their daughter. Today, chasing his daughter is a reminder of the night he almost lost it all and the exceptional care that saved him.

    When the new campus opens, it will include Eastern Ontario’s Regional Trauma Centre and will be the most advanced of its kind. A rooftop heliport with high-speed elevators will lead directly to Trauma Services, saving critical minutes for patients like Travis, and the State-of-the-art design and technology will attract more of the world’s best doctors, nurses, researchers, and educators.

  • 1955

    62/100 – Community Moment: The Peart Family

    The Ottawa Civic Hospital was an integral part of the Peart family. Douglas Peart, my father, became the CEO of the Ottawa Civic in 1954, the first non-physician to be hired in this position. He remained as CEO for 24 years, guiding the Ottawa Civic into a world-class health institution. As a master of remembering faces and names, he would speak to staff personally, interested in their families and lives. Christmas mornings at the Peart household would start only after Dad had gone into the hospital, donned his Santa suit, and distributed toys and good wishes to the children on the pediatric ward, before CHEO came into being.

    Dad would sometimes go into his hospital office on weekends to finish up necessary work, and I would often go with him. I loved the hushed tones of the nurses’ shoes and the efficiency and purpose of the staff as they kept that institution running 24/7, 365 days a year. It was then that I decided I wanted to go into nursing. My first job, after becoming a registered nurse, was at the Ottawa Civic Hospital in 1982, and all three of my children were born at the Civic.

    Congratulations on the 100th anniversary of the Ottawa Civic Hospital! Our community has much to be proud of.   

    – Mary Devitt, community member.

    Mr. Peart, CEO of the Civic Hospital, and two female colleagues showing a prosthetic leg to Mr. E. E. Sparrow, Chairman of the Ontario Workmen’s Compensation Board, during a visit to the Capital in 1955. 

    Photo credit: City of Ottawa Archives MG393-NP-35748-001 CA031826
  • 2000

    61/100 – Sam Laprade

    Sam Laprade, is a well-known Ottawa media personality and fundraising professional. She is best known for her Roger’s television show, An Hour to Give, and for The Sam Laprade Show which aired until October 2023.

    A few weeks later, in November, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, presented Sam with the Order of Ottawa medal at City Hall for her contributions to our community.

    A fun fact, Sam worked at The Ottawa Hospital Foundation many years ago, and in this personal video, she shares with us her own special moment from 2000.

  • 1929

    60/100 – Community Moment: Charles Kettles

    Charles Kettles with his beloved wife, Jessie
    Photo provided by Inez Kettles.

    “This story was told to me by my Aunt Mary Kettles in 1993.

    Charles Kettles, my grandfather, had a farm on the 7th Line (now Leitrim Road) and was building up his Holstein herd. He had bought a registered bull named Paul Count Pegee. The day of the accident was Thursday, December 19, 1929. Tom, a Home Child working on the farm, after taking the children to school by horse and sleigh, returned to the barn just in time to hear Charlie yell, “Tom, Paul!” He saw Charlie being tossed in the air inside the bullpen and bravely entered and pulled him out. Charlie was initially unconscious, but later became more lucid.

    Doctor Evans came in the afternoon and told the family that Charlie had to go to the hospital. He was dressed in warm clothes and put on a mattress on a single-horse sleigh. Two men from neighbouring farms headed off with him to the Ottawa Civic, more than 20 kilometres away.

    Storming badly, it was a long, rough trip on snow-filled roads. Charlie was in bad shape and had no sedation. Late that night, on their way home, the two men stopped at the Gorman farm (present intersection of Heron and Walkley) where they woke the owner and were given food for themselves and the horse. Meanwhile at the hospital, Charlie was diagnosed with a fractured skull.

    Things then went from bad to worse. Three days later, Charles’ 3-year-old daughter Jean, was brought to the Civic with pneumonia and put on the same floor as her father. On Christmas Day, Mary, age 10, arrived seriously ill, also with pneumonia, and was put in the same room as Jean.

    Luckily, all three improved and, in time, were declared out of danger. Charlie remained on the farm until his death in 1961, whereupon Tom, now the owner of a nearby farm and never forgotten, was asked to be a pallbearer.

    This is only one of our family stories that involves the Civic Hospital. My siblings and cousins, their descendants, are always grateful for the part the Civic played in their care and, ultimately, their survival.”

  • 1986

    58/100 – Canada’s First Artificial Heart Transplant

    In 1986, a special surgery made its way into the history books — it was the first-ever implant of the Jarvik-7 artificial heart in Canada.

    The recipient was Noella Leclair of Ottawa who had suffered a heart attack. The surgery took three-and-a-half hours and was meant as a bridge to a future transplant. And this approach worked. One week later, Noella received a human heart. The donor was a 44-year-old Montreal businessman killed in a traffic accident.

    At a news conference after her treatment at the Ottawa Heart Institute, Noella spoke about her ordeal. “My husband has been saying from day one that I am the luckiest woman in the world,” she said to reporters before going home. Noella Leclair lived another two decades.

    Dr. Keon, who performed more than 10,000 open-heart surgeries between 1969 and 2001 and founded the Ottawa Heart Institute in 1976 also performed this first-of its-kind procedure along with his surgical team.

  • 1926

    57/100 – Operating Rooms

    When the Civic Hospital opened in 1924 it was described in a newspaper article as “A magnificent structure,” and “a monument to a city’s progress.” The new hospital would herald a new era of healthcare in our region.

    At the time, the sixth floor was devoted to the operating and surgical departments. Four major operating rooms were equipped with the latest surgical devices known to medicine at that time, along with an eye-operating room, a dental room, and a plaster room. Large-screened windows prevented the entrance of “even a speck of dust.”

    Fast forward 100 years to planning the operating rooms of the future at our new hospital.

    “When the new campus opens, we’ll have one of the most state-of-the-art surgical facilities in Canada, if not North America,” explains Dr. Sudhir Sundaresan, Head of the Department of Surgery and a clinical thoracic surgeon at The Ottawa Hospital.

    The focus today is less on the physical form of the building and more on flexibility, functionality, and the patient experience. The new campus will have more and larger ORs than what currently exists at The Ottawa Hospital. Surgical suites and imaging equipment will be combined on a single floor, improving the flow of services, and ORs will be near interventional radiology suites for when a patient needs urgent surgery.

Stay tuned for more moments coming soon....