History and Profile
On a hill overlooking a bay on beautiful Lake Kamaniskeg, just outside the Village of Barry’s Bay, stands St. Francis Memorial Hospital, the realization of a dream, a tribute and testimonial to a unique individual who was largely responsible for much of the growth of the Village of Barry’s Bay.
It was the foresight, determination and vision of the late Rt. Rev. Peter Biernacki, Parish Priest of St. Hedwig’s that were significant factors in the planning and the erection of this sorely-needed building. A humanitarian, with the needs of the people always at heard, Monsignor was strongly aware of the need of a hospital facilities and care for an ever-growing Community. The nearest hospitals were at Pembroke, Renfrew and Bancroft, some fifty to sixty miles away. “Lives could be lost,” he said, “and emergency care not available.”
Formation of Ladies Auxiliary
But fate has its own designs. Monsignor Biernacki was denied the privilege of seeing the culmination of his dedication and work. Ill health and his death in December 1958 cut short his endeavors.
Fortunately, Mr. Henry J. Chapeski, a life long, versatile and dedicated parishioner, as well as a public-spirited citizen with a deep knowledge and experience in business and municipal affairs brought Monsignor’s dream into reality. Tenacity, “know how”, and the co-operation of several individuals gave to the district one of the finest and most modern, small rural hospitals in the Province.
Hospital Land Purchased 1947
Official Opening 1960
On Tuesday, October 25, 1960, the hospital was officially opened by the Hon. Leslie Frost, Premier of Ontario assisted by the grand niece of Monsignor Peter B. Biernacki, 7 year old Beverly Flynn. The Chairman for the occasion was Mr. Paul Yakabuski, Reeve of the Village of Barry’s Bay who welcomed the honoured guests, the Hon. James A. Maloney, Minister of Mines and M.L.A for Renfrew South, Mr. Murray Daly, Reeve of Sherwood, Jones & Burns and Warden of Renfrew County, Mr. Maurice Hamilton, M.L.A. for Renfrew North and Dr. J.B. Neilson, who brought greetings from the Ontario Hospital Services Commission. All speakers commended the organizations and individuals in the Community who had given so unstintingly of their time and efforts, and their monetary assistance. Also present for the occasion was His Excellency Most Rev. W.J. Smith, Bishop of Pembroke, who blessed the hospital and offered Mass in the Hospital Chapel. Rev. A.J. Maika, Parish Priest of St. Hedwig’s and clergy from the neighbouring parishes also were in attendance. Some 1500 citizens of the area were on hand to see the culmination of years of sacrifice and hard work. Several members of the Sisters of St. Joseph, whose Motherhouse is in Pembroke were also present. It was to this congregation of Sisters to whom the Administration of the hospital was designated. Sr. Mary Emma was named directress and with six other sisters was placed in complete charge of the Administration and Nursing and Technical operations of the new Hospital.
Initial Staff and Board
The initial Board of Directors was composed of: Chairman Mr. Henry J. Chapeski, Mr. Chris Corrigan, Mr. Edward Shalla, Mr. Maxie Mintha and Mr. Paul Yakabuski.
Throughout the years the staff of St. Francis Memorial Hospital has continued to server the Village of Barry’s Bay and all adjoining Communities in a professional and dedicated manner.
In 1960, the hospital served about 15,000 within a 25 mile radius.
In January 1971, the Barry’s Bay Ambulance Service came into existence. Its base is situated at the hospital. At this time, there were approximately 200 calls with 32,200 kilometres traveled. In March 1983, there were approximately 750 calls with a distance of 83,000 kilometres traveled. Previous to 1971, Ambulance Services to the Community were provided by Mr. William Goulet.
Expansion in 1985
The word Memorial was included because the structure was to be a memento to all who had served their Country in two World Wars.
From the time of its inception, the hospital has tried to maintain the hopes contained in Premier Frost’s closing statement at the Official Opening, “May this be a great institution of usefulness and mercy to the residents of Barry’s Bay and surrounding Community.”