The new McGill Univeristy Health Centre- Royal Victoria Hospital
Photo Credit: Melinda Dalton-CBC

The biggest hospital move in Canada


It’s called the new “superhospital” in Montreal. The McGill University Health Centre, MUHC, combines the previous university research centre and Royal Victoria Hospital, previously merged, but physically separated, into a single huge new complex.

Panoramic view of the new MUHC “superhospital” at the former Glen Yards railway site in Montreal. Part of the move was completed last month, while another major segment of the move will take place this weekend. © MUHC

The staff, services and much equipment is being moved to the new location this weekend which is a massive logistics and has been in the planning for years, and which constitutes the biggest hospital move in Canada.

Julie Paquet is the  Communications Manager for the new MUHC

Julie Paquet, Communications Manager for the new McGill University Health Centre- “superhospital” © MUHC

The original Royal Victoria Hospital was built on land donated in 1891 by two of Canada’s famous Scots. George Stephen (Lord Mount Stephen), and Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona) who helped build up Montreal and the new country of Canada.

The new MUHC covers a vast area of 5 city blocks in Montreal at a location which used to be a major railway yard, (Glen Yard) and cost about 1.3 billion dollars. Some 8,500 people will work at the new superhospital.

After more than two years of planning, the operation has begun for the herculean and complex task of moving an entire hospital operation from one location to another.

Moving of equipment and operations have begun with various staff and departments being  transferred in stages to the new location. About 60 percent of the equipment will be moved, with 40 percent being newly purchased.

This weekend some 2,500 staff members will be on hand to help coordinate and help with the many varied aspects of the move, and 29 ambulances will be operating as shuttles to transfer patients from the mountain to the Glen Yard site.

Interior entrance of the new MUHC superhospital © Melinda Dalton- CBC

It is not certain what will happen to the magnificent old Royal Vic (as it’s known) but in 2010, an article noted that the heirs of Stephen and Smith pointed out that the donation clearly stipulated the land was to be used for a hospital only.

The Royal Victoria Hospital on the Montreal mountain. © CP- Graham Hughes
The Royal Victoria Hospital entrance © Melinda Dalton- CBC

At the time Elspeth Angus, 81, one of the descendents of George Stephen was quoted in the Gazette newspaper saying, “What we want is respect for the intent of the original donors, and the intent was for the land to be used for the benefit of the community, not for some developer to make a bundle”

She added, “ I don’t want to see it turned into condos, or student residences. It’s surrounded by the Allen Memorial Institute on the one hand and the Montreal Neurological Hospital on the other, and by McGill University, which makes it ideal for a research facility”.

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