This building, at 402 Oxford Street East, has had a colourful history. Built in 1842, it was originally a school, where Mr Weir taught basic English grammar, reading, writing, arithmetic, geography and book-keeping. Wood was piled outside to fuel the box stove that heated the stone building. It reverted to a private residence in the 1880’s.
At the start of the Second World War, Rose Coleman opened the building as a nursing home, with 12 beds, and dealing with minor surgery, maternity, and chronic cases. Rose Coleman was born in England, and had worked as a nurse in other countries before arriving in Kemptville. The original stone building was added to over the years, and the stone is now hidden behind the siding.
For more than twenty years, the Nursing Home provided medical services to the North Grenville area. Over 600 babies were born there, and over 1,000 tonsillectomies were performed in its operating theatre.
In its first year, a makeshift oxygen tent was set up by using hot plates and water in gallon cans, and was credited with saving the lives of premature babies born in the Nursing Home. But, in 1940, Mrs. Coleman’s brother in England, who owned the Oxygenaire Company there, sent brand new oxygen equipment to Kemptville via a bomber (it being wartime). The adult and baby tents included with this equipment were used extensively and for many years afterwards.
The Coleman Nursing Home was used as an emergency hospital at one point, when maternity patients were evacuated from Ottawa when it was under quarantine. The home was so overcrowded, that staff had to sleep on the floor.
After the Kemptville District Hospital opened in 1960, the Nursing Home was no longer required, and it changed its role to that of a residential home for indigent patients. But for twenty years, the Coleman Nursing Home provided professional medical services, specialising in maternity cases, for a local population which would otherwise have had to travel far afield for care.