Fort Ostell artifacts show history of Centennial Centre


Fort Ostell Museum curator Sandy Allsopp has gathered a collection of memorabilia from many different eras of the Ponoka Mental Hospital. It will be available for the public to see this weekend while the reunion takes place at the Centennial Centre.

By Adam Jackson

From farming to curling, The Centennial Centre has done it all.

Along with treatments such as lobotomies, electroshock therapy and other now-frowned upon treatments, the Ponoka Mental Hospital has gone through a lot of change.

Some treatments, for obvious reasons, don’t occur at the world-renowned psychiatric hospital anymore, but the history of the hospital is not forgotten.

The Fort Ostell Museum has a special collection of memorabilia from the 100 years of service at The Centennial Centre and it will debut this weekend.

From 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, the staff at the Fort Ostell Museum will conduct tours through the artifacts and photos available.

“If you’re up at (The Centennial Centre) and you want to come down here, there are shuttles that you can catch to come down here,” said Sandy Allsopp, a curator at Fort Ostell.

Normally during the Heritage Day long weekend, the museum honours a group of immigrants to Ponoka, but this year, since it’s the 100th anniversary of The Centennial Centre, the entire weekend is dedicated to the plethora of history that goes along with it.

The collection of photographs through the years of service at the mental hospital is something that the museum is proud of.

With some photos dating back as early as 1909, it shows a true timeline of the hospital and the changes that it has gone through and continues to experience.

“We have the uniforms that the male attendants and nurses wore, electric shock machines, lobotomy needles, insulin therapy equipment, and lots of other stuff,” said Allsopp.

The museum also has authentic furniture that once lined the rooms and halls of The Centennial Centre.

Another major part of the history available at the museum is the sports trophies.

“A lot of people don’t realize it, but sports were a big part of the hospital back in the day,” said Allsopp. “Mostly for the staff of the hospital, but they had all kinds of teams.”

In the 1930s, the soccer competition was so fierce that some staff were hired for their ability to play.

“If you were a good soccer player, they hired you.”

Another little-known fact about The Centennial Centre was home to central Alberta’s first curling rink, which was a major accomplishment for the hospital.

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