McMaster University

History of
Health Care in Hamilton

Scope of Search

House of Refuge

City Hospital

A hotel, formerly owned by Nathaniel Hughson, at the corner of John and Guise Streets was purchased for the new city hospital in 1853. It was a three story building with a large verandah overlooking Hamilton's waterfront. Built in 1830, it had flourished as a hotel when all the traffic to Hamilton had been by ship. When rail took over as the predominate means of transportation, the hotel closed. During the 1830's it was used to barrack British soldiers and later it became the City's custom house.

The hotel served as the City Hospital for nearly 30 years with 70 beds and a staff of 6 physicians and one surgeon.

Although the building had been renovated and expanded over the years, in 1882 City Council decided it was time to build a new, modern hospital for Hamilton. When the Hamilton General Hospital was opened, the patients were transferred out of the old hospital and into the new.

Into this now vacant building moved the elderly women from the House of Refuge. It was renamed the House of Refuge and men as well as women lived there. It operated until 1895 when it was demolished and replaced with a new building just east of the original site. This building was the first one in Hamilton designed specifically as a home for the elderly. It provided accommodation for 150 residents and staff in dormitories.

In 1920 the name of the home was updated to Home for the Aged and Infirm. In 1949 the name was changed again to Macassa Lodge. (Macassa was an early name for Hamilton Harbour) By the 1950's the building was considered outdated. A piece of property on Upper Sherman Avenue was purchased and a new Macassa Lodge was built. The old building was demolished in July 1956. Today the Marina Towers and Harbour Towers, both apartment buildings, occupy the site.