In today’s post, Julia is here to tell us about the Tranquille Sanatorium and its fascinating history.
The Tranquille Sanatorium is a piece of land and cluster of buildings located on the outskirts of Kamloops. Originally opened November 1907, it was called the King Edward VII Sanatorium and served to treat tuberculosis.
The disease was quickly spreading during this time, and Kamloops was the ideal place to host these patients. Anyone suffering from tuberculosis was advised to stay away from polluted or damp areas – and it being 1907, Kamloops had far fewer inhabitants than today. It was even said that Kamloops was the best spot in all of Canada, if not North America.
The inhabitants of Kamloops at the time were not pleased with the prospect of so many tuberculosis patients living near them. By creating an Anti-Sanatorium League, they began their protests. The solution to appease everyone was to purchase land over ten kilometers outside of town. This way, there would be less of a risk of outsiders contracting the illness.
They purchased the land in Tranquille – named after a First Nations Chief who was executed for his betrayal of the fur traders, and it was 191 acres. The sanatorium was established, eventually growing to forty buildings (four of which were hospitals). They were able to make these expansions due to various donations. Other buildings consisted of housing for doctors, a fire hall, kitchen, laundry area, farm buildings, nurses’ buildings, and more. It was practically its own city.
Another interesting addition to the Sanatorium were the tunnels. These tunnels were created to transport food and laundry, but also served as a barber shop and morgue. Needless to say, there are countless ghost stories about these tunnels.
Throughout the years, the Tranquille Sanatorium brought many curious tourists (the beautiful gardens were widely recognized), but the need for a sanatorium soon decreased. By 1957, a cure for tuberculosis had been discovered and the sanatorium met its end. The remaining patients were shipped off to Vancouver and the sanatorium was closed.
At the time of closure, the sanatorium had hosted over six hundred patients and staff. Many of the young men fell in love with their nurses and ended up married.
The old sanatorium briefly re-opened as a school, but the school didn’t last long. It was soon decided that the sanatorium would act as an extra facility for Essondale and Woodlands – to house patients with mental illness. The first patients would arrive in 1959.
The old sanatorium was then referred to as the Woodlands School until 1984, when it closed. Aside from the patients, they also found themselves with various abandoned children.
Though the care and food provided at Tranquille was good, the patients had little to no freedom; their days were planned out for them. There were limited activities provided and a few staff members were not polite – a few former employees had said there was room for improvement.
After the closure of 1984, the sanatorium had a few other purposes, including hosting a union for a few days. However, nothing was permanent, and the sanatorium was soon forgotten.
The Tranquille Sanatorium is somewhat of an interesting story due to the fact that it served many purposes over its years and the possibility that there are many things people don’t know about the sanatorium. Even the fact that they had underground tunnels is somewhat of a strange concept.
Long gone are the days of tuberculosis, but the story of the sanatorium lives on through the owners of the property, who try their best to preserve the history behind the buildings.
The land is now Tranquille Farm Fresh, and the buildings remained closed off. Being so old, the buildings are worse for wear, only adding to the theories that the property is haunted. Though it is private property, people have definitely gone to test the theories by sneaking into windows to give themselves their own tour of the sanatorium.
At Halloween, the tunnels open for a haunted tour – where actors hide to make the experience as terrifying as possible.
The sanatorium surrounding area has served as the site for a few movies and there are many ghost stories. There does not seem to be one prevalent ghost story, but rather, the acceptance of the building being haunted. One story tells of a nurse who caught tuberculosis after she fell in love with one of the patients.
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