A hospital for vets, a hotel for the stars

Qualicum Beach Family History Society and Qualicum Beach Museum and Historical Society planning a joint meeting April 15

Many people involved in the current debate about healthcare in the region may not know that Qualicum Beach once had its own hospital.

It’s true, says Lorraine Butler, president of the Qualicum Beach Family History Society.

“It was following the First World War,” she said. “In 1918 there was a military convalescent hospital on the Memorial Golf Course. It was in the old Qualicum Beach Inn, which was converted to a military hospital to deal with the returning soldiers.”

That’s just one of the many interesting facts that will be laid out in full when the Family History Society teams up with the Qualicum Beach Museum and Historical Society for a special joint meeting at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre on April 15 at 7 p.m.

The event will feature two presentations about local luminaries from Qualicum Beach history: General Noel Money and Dr. Campbell Davidson.

The event comes after a meeting in October saw 12 people debate which of five possible historical figures — Money, Davidson Thomas Kinkade, Elizabeth Little or Guiseppe Roat — would be highlighted.

“The three who were not chosen have had so much work done on them already, we decided to go with these,” Butler said.

Research into the lives of Money and Dr. Davidson was done by two teams of two, with Butler working with Marion Summerer on the Davidson file and Kathy Jones and Sally Hemingson following the Money trail.

They are both fascinating tales.

“I couldn’t have imagined what I learned about our own Canadian history,” Butler said. “Dr. Davidson was the first physician in Qualicum Beach and his family is really exciting. His father was Sir Charles Pierce Davidson,a judge-magistrate in Montreal. He had a brother who died on the Titanic, along with his father-in-law. Each one of the siblings has a story. For instance, both he and his brother — oddly named Shirley — won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Victorians.”

Looking farther into the past, the family emigrated to Canada from England in 1779. Dr. Davidson’s father fought in the Fenian raids, “on the side of the British, of course,” she said.

Davidson, who served as the doctor in the military hospital, lived in a home in Qualicum Beach provided by General Noel Money — located on the site of what is now the Old Dutch Inn.

Anyone looking into the history of Qualicum Beach will come across that name more than once, as Money was a key player in the development of the town and the museum has a whole exhibit dedicated to his memory and the contributions he made to the area.

Money lived at what is now the Crown Mansion and was the owner of the Qualicum Beach Hotel – A Tudor-style luxury hotel was initially used as a convalescent hospital for First World War veterans before becoming a favourite west-coast vacation spot for such Hollywood stars as Shirley Temple, Errol Flynn, Bob Hope, Spencer Tracey and Bing Crosby — even the King of Siam.

Demolished in 1969, the only remnant of the hotel is in one of the private homes built on the site, which has a basement that used to be the hotel swimming pool. The pool’s lane stripes, it is said, can still be seen on the basement floor.

Admission to the joint meeting is free to members of either society and by donation.