By Kevin Sabo
For the Advance
During the early years of the last century the area residents of Castor called home was a new frontier, far from the trappings of civilization.
It was through the construction of the railroad that communities succeeded or failed. Castor succeeded, and between November 1909 when it was incorporated as a village, and July 13, 1910, when it was incorporated as a town, the population exploded.
When the village was incorporated, the town only had 200 residents. By the following summer, the population was more than 1,100.
The population boom led to challenges in the new community, the health care of the town being a significant one. What could the new settlers expect for care in this frontier town?
Louise Bolinger was a midwife and trained nurse from the United States who settled in Castor early on, and she provided medical care in home to the residents. With the population explosion seen during 1910, however, there is no way she could provide the needed care for everyone in town.
At a Castor town council meeting on Aug. 25, 1910, the decision was made to create a hospital for a six-month trial to provide the medical care that was missing in the region. In a speed not seen in any modern government, the Bellview Hospital opened its doors under Dr. Lyon on Sept. 9, 1910. The council authorized a budget of $1,000 to get the hospital going and operate for its six-month trial.
The building that housed the original hospital sits on the corner of 51st Ave. and 52nd St. and had the capability of looking after eight patients in a general ward, and two in private wards, with Dr. Lyon attending, and the patients under the watchful eyes of Miss Willis, the first matron in Castor.
The trial was successful, as Bellview remained in operation until Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital received its first patients on Nov. 2, 1911, just more than a year since the Bellview opened.
The building that served as Castors first hospital still stands in Castor, though it is slated for the wrecking ball soon. The building has a storied history, serving as a landing house on the trail north of Halkirk before being moved to main street castor, where it was converted to a hotel. It was subsequently moved to its current location, converted into a hospital, and then saw use as a residence until the mid-2000s, at which point it was left abandoned.
Not much is left of the interior of the building, but the building still stands as a testament to the past, which is being eroded away more and more as the generation that carries that history begin to die without passing it on. Another piece of history will erode when the building meets the wreckers sometime in the coming weeks.