The Brant Military Hospital, Burlington

Originally Published in Heritage Happenings, November 2006
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The Brant Military Hospital, Burlington was established rather abruptly in August 1917, as facilities were desperately needed to treat soldiers seriously injured in the war. With only the Hamilton General Hospital on Barton Street available to service the Head-of-the-Lake area, the federal government expropriated the swank lakeside inn known as the Brant Hotel to become a military hospital. The former resort was quickly adapted – the large verandahs where tourists had once whiled away their holidays were boarded up and made into wards. The atmosphere became rather sombre as the building’s first new inhabitants included amputees and bullet wound victims.

In 1919, a second wing was built and used for soldiers wounded in the war and brought there to convalesce, with patients shipped to Canada from England and France once they were well enough to travel. Serious efforts were made to improve the soldiers’ morale with concerts by Hamilton entertainers and a hospital newspaper called ‘Carry On’ which published the writing efforts of the patients. This poem, ‘The Call of the Colonel’ is taken from the second edition of the newspaper, published February 1919, a copy of which was kindly loaned to the archivist by a Flamborough Centre resident.

The Call of the Colonel

This is the call of the Colonel, and ever he makes it plain:
“Send me more men for my unit, send them again and again;
Send them all ready for battle, with duster or broom or pen;
Send them as soon as convenient, but send me Men, Men, Men.
Send me men who will work in the pantry, peel spuds or mop up the floors,
Men who will clean the windows and polish the handles of doors;
Men for ambulance duty, men to watch patients by night,
Policemen and sundry duties, men who will do them right.
Send men who are giants in stature to do the heavy fatigues,
But men I must have for the stores, too who know the various intrigues;
And men for the arduous duties of clerks I am sorely in need,
Men, who, when work is behind some, will gallantly work at top speed.
Men like these and much more men, such will I welcome always,
Men who will serve for ever, regard not allowance or pay;
Men with ambition for khaki, disdaining civilian blue,
Men with the patience Job had, contented, sober and true.
Send not men like I have now, some of them wanting discharge,
Who are ever lying in waiting their grievances to enlarge;
Send not the cripples or loafers, but good men, at least A2;
Such will I take to my service in order to see this thing through.
Send good men from farm or from city, or wherever they may be found;
Don’t bother about N.C.O.’s, for of them I’ve enough to go round;
The same may be said of the Sisters, the M.O.’s and V.A.D.’s –
But men I must have at once sir, for your immediate action, please.”

Dennis O’Rossin (with due apologies to Robt. W. Service)

© The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society 2006, 2024.


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