Willowhaven Private Hospital 1957-2004
It was shocking news in 2002 when the health authority announced plans to decommission some care facilities in the area including Willowhaven Private Hospital at Six Mile. The hospital had grown from accommodating six residents when it opened in 1957 to eighty-four residents by the 1990’s. It saw at least 5 additions, three different owners, employed hundreds of people and was home to many, many long term care residents during its forty-five year history.
Willowhaven was located at Six Mile about half way up and on the west side of Greenwood Road. A few years after its closure, in March 2004, the property was sold. The building was torn down. Today the old “maintenance shop” still stands but the rest of the property remains empty.
The hospital, which was a former private home, was opened in 1957 by Mr. and Mrs. Peter Offerman. “Situated in meadowland near the lake, the “Willowhaven Private Hospital” is licenced under the department of health and welfare for the care of medical, chronic and convalescent patients. It is operated in partnership by two graduate nurses, Mrs. Peter Offermann and Mrs. C.W.A. Barwis”
The operators had plans to develop the land further and believed this to be the beginning of a major project for the area’s elderly residents. “About 8 acres are available for low-rent cottages for pensioners, also a boarding house for elderly people not able to care for themselves.” The idea being that if a resident became ill they would have “medical facilities available on the premises, there is less upheaval in the resident’s life”.
Although the cottage idea never did come to be, several additions were added to the original building over the years. In 1959 the first addition was added bringing the capacity to 19. In 1960 a new wing was added to bring the number of residents to 27. Yet another wing was added in 1963 bringing the capacity to 52 and by 1971 there were a total 81 beds. One final addition in the late 1980’s added five private rooms and a large dining/activity room.
Willowhaven was sold to new owners in 1986 and then again 1992.
Willowhaven was part of the community- holding teas, bazaars, bake sales and Christmas parties which were open to the public. They had a large number of volunteers and their own auxiliary who helped with various activities to enhance the lives of the residents. The local school children visited and entertained. St. Andrew’s Sunday School and the Duhamel Recreation Commission provided programs for the residents.
There had been threats of closure due to lack of enough government funding at various times in the 1980’s and 1990’s but these threats were averted. In 2002 when the notice of closure was announced there was no reprieve. Willowhaven closed for good in March of 2004.
Patsy Ormond-May 2014
Sources: Nelson Daily News articles: Nov 2 1957; April 6 1963; June 15 1981
 Nelson Daily News-Nov 2, 1957
 Nelson Daily News-April 6, 1963