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Fort Qu'Appelle TB Sanatorium

History of Fort San, 1917-1971

The History of Fort San

At the turn of the century, Tuberculosis was a concern in Saskatchewan as the number of cases were gradually increasing. To address this problem, the Province of Saskatchewan created the Saskatchewan Anti-Tuberculosis League in 1911. The Anti-Tuberculosis League proceeded with plans to build Saskatchewan’s first Sanatorium to isolate and treat patients. The location was nestled in the Valley near Fort Qu’Appelle and was purchased for a sum of $8,250.

The Fort Qu’Appelle Sanatorium (known as The San or Fort San) opened its doors October 10, 1917. The facility consisted of a 60 bed unit (Main Lodge) on 230 sprawling acres.

With a high demand for beds, the facility expanded to 260 beds in 1918. Construction continued at the facility.

In 1918, World War I Veterans created an extensive library at the facility. Books on TB were purchased so patients could educate themselves. This literary enlightenment led to the creation of The Sanatorium Journal composed of poems and musings that eventually turned into The Valley Echo.

At its peak, Fort San could accommodate 358 patients and a vibrant community emerged through activities such as the drama club, jazz band, and internal radio programs.

The numbers of TB patients were dropping greatly. By 1960, only 126 of the 300 beds were being utilized at the facility. The Prince Albert Sanatorium closed in 1961, sending the patients to Fort San.

In 1967, with a small portion of the facility in use for patients, an unused portion of The San housed the Qu’Appelle School of the Arts.

As Tuberculosis had been beaten, the need for a Sanatorium ceased. The Fort Qu’Appelle Santorium closed its doors April 1, 1971, and the facility was handed over to the Department of Public Works.

In the 80’s, the facility housed a summer school for the arts and the occasional convention. Fort San was beginning to fall in disrepair and remained a financial burden. The Government began looking for a solution.

The name of the facility was changed to the Echo Valley Conference Centre and in 1992 an agreement was made with Saskatchewan Property Management Corporation (SPMC) and the Department of National Defense (DND) to utilize the facility. The Conference Centre is now used by many organizations for various functions including the Sea Cadet training program and a Band Camp for the Lions Band.

Today, the Echo Valley Conference Centre is a well-manicured time capsule. Although a small number of the buildings have since been torn down and the landscape has since matured, the essence of The San remains.

SPMC closed the facility September 30, 2004. The fate of Fort San, Canada's last tuberculosis sanatorium, is in question, as the provincial government has put the Echo Valley Conference Centre up for sale. The property has not been designated a heritage site, so the facility is not safe from the wrecking ball. We hope the facility will one day receive the recognition it deserves, a memorial to thousands of people who suffered from TB.

For further information on Tuberculosis in Canada, visit History of the Fight Against Tuberculosis in Canada

[Summarized from Memories of Fort San at www.freewebs.com/fortsan/, accessed 07 Jun 2010, site no longer active]

Owner of originalhttp://www.freewebs.com/fortsan/
Linked toIva Clare Marion Molony (Occupation)

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