Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost Museum

Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost House Museum

Highway #648, across from Wilberforce Library
Wilberforce Ontario

Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost Historic House Museum, site of the first Outpost Hospital in Ontario. Opened in 1922 in response to an serious lack of medical care in the area, it ran right up until 1967 when it was no longer needed.

The building was vacant for a number of years prior to 1991 when it was leased to the Wilberforce Heritage Guild with the understanding that it was to get restored as a museum committed to the individuals who worked so hard for making Ontario’s first Red Cross Outpost Hospital a reality.

Historic Place

Situated near north eastern boundary of the village of Wilberforce, Ontario,.

Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost National Historic Site of Canada is a basic, rectangular, frame house that has a truncated hipped roof and an open porch preserving the main entrance.

The white-painted Red Cross outpost stands on a quarter acre of land set back from the road and is flanked by two private resident properties.

The rear of the property backs onto Dark Lake.


Heritage Value

Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost was designated a national historical site in Canada in 2002 mainly because:
– it exemplifies the key role of outpost nurses in delivering health care and health education and learning in isolated posts of Canada
– the Canadian Red Cross outpost program strengthened colonization efforts and demonstrated to the general population and government the beneficial need for medical services in isolated communities, thus aiding the development and advancement of the social welfare state
– also through the Wilberforce nursing station along with other equivalent Red Cross outposts, knowledge regarding the operations and administration of the Canadian Red Cross outpost program spread all over the world

The heritage value of this site, as illustrated by the building on its site, resides in its identity as the first outpost of the Ontario Division of the Canadian Red Cross that served the village and surrounding areas as a health centre and emergency hospital from 1922 to 1957. With limited funding at its disposal, the Red Cross rented an existing house that could accommodate a nurse as well as room for emergency cases and health education sessions. Over the years, the building and its lot have been slightly altered. It now serves as a museum of outpost nursing.

Here and elsewhere, dedicated women furnished health education and badly necessary nursing care with minimal professional medical backup, facilities and equipment, frequently travelling and operating in difficult conditions. The Red Cross outpost program served as a model for health programs outside Canada, and aided the development of a government-supported health care system at home.


Nestled amidst the hills of the Haliburton Highlands in the hamlet of Wilberforce is Ontario’s first Red Cross Outpost Hospital. Established in February of 1922, the Outpost was located in Wilberforce mainly as a result of endeavours by Alfred Schofield, an inspector for the Children’s Aid Society, who was alarmed because of the lack of medical service in the region. The Canadian Red Cross, Ontario division, was contacted and agreed to deliver a nurse and equipment, the local people organized the acquisition of the building and some furnishings, and the first Red Cross Outpost Hospital program was begun.

Tribute to the Red Cross Nurses Wilberforce

The Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost through the next four decades established itself not only as a haven providing medical services, but also became an integral part of the local community. What began as a one-room treatment method centre and the nurses’ home, became a mini-hospital with three rooms to accommodate in-patients.

Nurses who served at the Wilberforce Outpost established themselves as valuable assets to the area, not only in their part at the Outpost but as a result of participation in community activities and gatherings. Indeed, the Outpost itself became a lot more than a treatment centre, serving regularly as the hosting site of card parties, various social activity groups and the focal point of holiday events.

In 1963 the Red Cross terminated its nursing support out of the Outpost and the building was deeded to the Monmouth Township and over the following few years served as a residence.

Wilberforce Heritage Guild, 1991

Restoration of the Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost was the first project of the Wilberforce Heritage Guild in 1991, with the intention of preserving and restoring historic sites as well as collecting and displaying artifacts appropriate to the history of the former Monmouth Township, now Highlands East, and its surrounding area.

Museum Hours
Open Daily July & August
11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Or By Appointment


2314 Loop Road
Wilberforce, Ontario, Canada

See their Website http://www.redcrossoutpost.org/

Other Museums in the area to enjoy and collect a little history

Haliburton Highlands Museum

The Dorset Heritage Museum

Stanhope Heritage Discovery Museum

Minden Hills Museum


About The Author


Country life was always a factor when we looked for a place to live, so back in 2002 Heather and I quit our city jobs and purchased a small Country Resort on Halls Lake in the Haliburton Highlands of Ontario Canada. We live on the resort grounds and enjoying helping people with their all season vacation and Family Reunion planning. Our Blog supports resort guests and visitors to the area by letting them know all the things happening in the Haliburton Highlands in order to get the most out of their vacation or weekend getaway. We'll be happy to help you find what your looking for in the Haliburton Highlands. May it be things to do, places to eat, family activities, sites to see, cottages for rent or sale, almost anything to do with the Haliburton Highlands.


  • Loyal Steckley Reina

    Reply Reply May 2, 2012

    My brother Robert Walter Samuel Steckley was born at the Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost
    September 5, 1935 or 1936.

    He is challenged and his birth certicate has been lost.
    We need to get him a new one and need to verify the dates he was registered. Both of our parents are deceased.
    His Mother was Anne Eliza Steckley (nee Skinner) (Born March 3, 1907)
    His Father was Frederick Merle Steckley (Born Dec. 9, 1895

    Any assitance would be much appreciated.

    • Loralea

      Reply Reply May 2, 2012

      Loyal Steckley Reina

      Good luck is getting a new birth certificate.

      Sorry but I have nothing to do with the Outpost. I just blog on interesting things for our resort guests to do while in the Haliburton Highlands.

      Try contacting the Red Cross Outpost

      All the best….

      Bill and Heather

    • Shaun

      Reply Reply July 28, 2014

      Loyal Steckley Reina,
      I came across your name by chance. I’m tracing my Watson ancestors. Your father Frederick Steckley was the son of Samuel and Sussannah. I descend from Sussannah’s sister.

      Your brother’s birth registration would be on file with the Registrar General. Depending on where you live, you should be able to either apply for a copy of the original birth record through mail or on-line. This link should explain everything.


      I’d be interested in discussing the family history further if you’d like.


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