THE ROSS PAVILION

The first major addition to the buildings of the Royal Victoria Hospital was the Ross Pavilion in 1916. The decision to construct a new building on the grounds at this point in time was due largely to the generosity of J.K.L. Ross, who honoured his father James Ross with a gift to the hospital which ultimately totaled $700 000. Originally it was intended that the gift would provide a new wing to be added to the original buildings, but the steepness of the site immediately to the rear made this impossible, and an entirely separate building was constructed. Additionally, there was the desire to ameliorate relations with Lord Mount Stephen by separating the public and private patients of the hospital. It was a sore point with the hospital’s founder that private patients were being admitted to the hospital, and it was hoped that by devoting an entire pavilion to private patients, the main hospital building would again be completely dedicated to the ‘sick poor’. One of the truly distinctive factors of the Royal Victoria Hospital began to come in to play during the planning of the new pavilion in terms of selection of site. The rear of the hospital grounds features a large shelf of rock several hundred feet in length running from east to west. Given the railroad experience of the founders and some of the governors, especially Sir Herbert Holt, it was with great confidence that the decision was made to site the new building atop this outcropping. The task of designing the pavilion fell to Montreal architects Stevens & Lee, and Kenneth G. Rea. Officially opened in October 1916, the new building was a harmonious addition to the original work of Saxon Snell, though it did exhibit many improvements in hospital planning that had taken place since the early 1890’s. The bulk of space in the Ross Pavilion was originally planned as patient accommodation on the second, third, fourth, and fifth floors. The purpose of the building as serving private patients was evident in the large size of the rooms, and presence of numerous private baths and balconies. Fresh air and light was provided by large, centrally located balconies on each floor. Access to the grounds was made though an entrance on the building’s north facade, which was dominated by the large stone tower. The Ross Pavilion is a C-shaped plan which faces towards the original hospital buildings. Coupling the numerous balconies, turrets and crenellations on this facade with the tower to the rear, the Ross Pavilion has an imposing presence over the hospital grounds and the City of Montreal. To this day it is one of the highest major structures ever built on Mount Royal.