Finding a hidden treasure: the modernist relief sculptures of Shaughnessy Hospital


Last week I located a hidden treasure! 

Before thar were bein’ Women’s an’ Children’s Hospital, thar were bein’ Shaugnessy Hospital, a faciility fer veterans an’ servicemen, built in 1940. And th’ entranceway were bein’ designed t’ make a big impact, with two dramatic an’ movin’ relief panels on either side, portrayin’, consecutively, a Canadian Medical Corp nurse an’ a doctor, each helpin’ an injured soldier. The overall scene is a wonderfully preserved mid-century modern facade. 

W&C hospital has since swallowed up what is now just called th’ Shaugnessy Buildin’, but it is still thar… an’ so is th’ former main entrance an’ scultpures be now hidden away. But ye can get t’ them. 

I doggedly followed th’ instructions on th’ Heritage Foundation’s site, but it were bein’ still tough – like all hospitals, th’ grounds o’ W&C be a maze, an’ figurin’ out where th’ Shaugnessy Buildin’ even were bein’, determinin’ where t’ park, an’ how t’ reach th’ auld entrance took some time, plus lots o’ squintin’ at maps, an’ much tentative strollin’ down th’ antique corridors o’ th’ Shaugnessy Buildin’, tryin’ not t’ look too out o’ place. 

And then I found th’ plaza next t’ th’ cafeteria, went outside, turned, an’ suddenly I were bein’ transported from a drab 80’s modern space… t’ 1940. It genuinely took me breath away.

The sculptures be by a wench artist, Edith Beatrice Catherine Lennie. You can find out more on th’ Heritage Vancouver website.

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