The Mountain Sanatorium (later renamed Chedoke Hospital), a long-term health center for the treatment of illness, most commonly tuberculosis, was the major center for the treatment of Eastern Inuit in the South, bringing over 1200 Inuit through its doors from 1953-1963. As such, Hamilton played a central role in the treatment of the tuberculosis epidemic that plagued Canada during this period.
As a program of occupational therapy for the patients the hospital implemented programs where Inuit women could sew, embroider, and make dolls and clothing and the men could make small carvings in their beds. Inuit industriousness resulted in the production of thousands of artworks that were sold and collected in the Hamilton area and beyond. The collection presented here includes primarily sculptures but also some textile items that were produced by patients during the 1950s and early 1960s.
With this presentation, the Art Gallery of Hamilton begins the process of understanding the complex history of Hamilton’s Mountain Sanatorium and its relationship to Inuit artists and culture. The recent donation of over one hundred sculptures produced by Inuit artists during their recovery at the Mountain Sanatorium provides the gallery with an opportunity to invest in research and to begin the critical work of building partnerships with communities both in the North and South.