The enduring legacy of Mother Ignatia

A new history exhibit at St. Joseph’s features the extraordinary life of the pioneering Sister who founded Mount Hope and St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Reverend Mother Ignatia Campbell founded both Mount Hope and St. Joseph’s Hospital in the 1800s.
Reverend Mother Ignatia Campbell founded both Mount Hope and St. Joseph’s Hospital in the 1800s.

When the Sisters of St. Joseph first stepped off the train in London to begin their journey of healing in Southwestern Ontario, it was Mother Ignatia Campbell who would lead this compassionate charge.

Opening Mount Hope in 1869, initially a home for orphans and the aged, Mother Ignatia would go on to establish St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1888 – setting the stage for what would become one of Canada’s most innovative health care organizations.

So just who was Mother Ignatia and what was her life like as she initiated a legacy of caring that endures today?

A new exhibit at St. Joseph’s Hospital celebrates the extraordinary life of this pioneering Sister and her remarkable achievements. Presented by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Archives in collaboration with the St. Joseph's Hospital and School of Nursing Artifact Collection, the display offers a captivating journey into Mother Ignatia’s legacy. Delve into the personal aspects of her life in London through items such as her pocket watch and prayer book. Glimpse the spirituality that fueled her mission by viewing religious artifacts used in the chapels at both Mount Hope and St. Joseph's Hospital. And transport yourself to the 1870s and 1880s, experiencing daily life through objects like a coal oil lamp once used at Mount Hope and the original key to Mount Hope itself.

October is a fitting month to launch the exhibit. It was 165 years ago on October 15 that Mother Ignatia took her final vows. And it was on the same day in October 135 years ago that the Reverend Mother would officially open the doors of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

To provide a holistic view of Mother Ignatia's era, the exhibit also features medical artifacts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gain insight into the medical practices and health care challenges of the time.

While the Sisters of St. Joseph have retired from their roles within the organization, with the final Sister stepping down from the Board of Directors in 2007, St. Joseph's continues to uphold their lasting legacy of respect, excellence, and compassion and caring for “the dear neighbour”.

Next time you are at St. Joseph’s Hospital for an appointment, be sure to visit the Mother Ignatia Campbell exhibit in the heritage corner at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Zone A, Level 1, near the Richmond Street entrance.

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