Lady Minto and the Victorian Order of Nurses raised funds to build cottage hospitals in rural and remote parts of Canada that had no hospitals like Almonte and Pembroke. The money raised for these obsolete type of small hospital by Lady Minto and the Victorian Order of Nurses was to be used as such: twenty-five per cent, of it went into the general fund and seventy-five percent went into the fund for local work. The fund for cottage hospitals was entirely distinct from the other funds and the contributors are made aware of this fact before they give their money. I checked the archives and the only places in Lanark County that had one was Almonte and Pembroke in the Valley. The Cottage Hospital was the former home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Walker. The advantages of such a hospital in villages and small towns were the provision of care which avoided long journeys to county or voluntary hospitals, facilities to deal more immediately with emergencies, and familiarity the local physician might have with their patients that may affect their treatment
Gertrude Shields was born at Tichborne Junction near Sharbot Lake on the old K and P line, or, as some of its disgruntled patrons along the right of way used to call it, “The Kick and Push.” Early in life she determined to follow a quasi-missionary bent and went to train as a nurse in Worcester, Massachusetts. In those days nursing was a serious calling, and its devotees were expected to prepare themselves through rigorous training. No time off, no holidays, no visit back home – just three years of constant work and study. Massachusetts was a semi – Puritan Commonwealth still, but the friendships that crystallized in its spartan training were granite-like in their lasting qualities. Miss Shields of Tichborne Junction in Ontario had two fast friends in training; they were Miss Briggs, from Prince Edward Island, and Miss Thorpe, from Nebraska, (after whom, of course, Thorpe Kelly was named).
Gertrude Shields returned to Canada a fully-fledged nurse, and in 1904 she joined the Victorian Order of Nurses in Ottawa. Her first assignment was to the cottage hospital in Almonte, now the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Walker. When the Rosamond Memorial Hospital was built in 1907, Miss Shields was appointed its first superintendent, and was in this capacity when the official ceremony of opening the hospital took place in the summer of 1909 with the Governor-General, Earl Grey of Falloden as the guest of honour.
Dr. Hanly was working with Dr. Lynch, Dr. Kelly and Dr. Metcalfe to establish a hospital where they could provide the best of what nursing science and medical skill could bring to their people in need. Their efforts culminated in the founding of the Cottage Hospital in 1903, and the Rosamond Memorial Hospital, which was officially opened by the Governor-General, Earl Grey, on New Year’s Day, 1908. -Almonte Gazette 1971- John Dunn.