Volunteer Association

Introduction  ||  Board presidents  ||  Milestones
A brief history:  Origins  ||  Fundraising  ||  The volunteer program  ||  The legacy

A brief history: Origins

Auxiliary Minute Book, 1920
Auxiliary Minute Book, 1920 (SMH Archives)
In April 1920, responding to an appeal from the Sisters of Saint Joseph of St. Michael’s Hospital, 65 civic-minded women agreed to form an Auxiliary to assist the hospital.

They met in the basement of St. Michael's to make linens and other materials for the patients of the hospital. During the war of 1914-1918, these same women had rolled bandages, sewed, knit and made dressings for the Canadian Red Cross.

Their original mandate was spelled out at this first meeting: “Reverend Mother of the hospital (Sister de Pazzi) explained the pressing need for an Auxiliary to assist those in charge with the making of hospital supplies bedding, bandages, etc. All materials would be supplied by hospital authorities, and a sister-in-charge would supervise the cutting."

The 65 founding members reached out and secured support from additional women who all agreed to sew for the hospital one half-day a month. Fondly referred to as "The Sewing Circle", these volunteers remained loyal to their core responsibility right up to 1965. In those 45 years of service, the Sewing Circle crafted untold numbers of surgical towels, draw sheets, pneumonia jackets, mattress covers for cribs and drapes. Their annual output ranged between 9,000 and 16,000 items.

Thus, the women of the Sewing Circle became the first formal group of volunteers at St. Michael’s Hospital. By 1923, the Sewing Circle had become a well-ordered group and they drafted their first constitution to help guide and shape their service to the hospital.

Throughout its history, the Auxiliary has had two primary functions: fundraising for the hospital and fostering the volunteer program.