Monday, April 18, 2011

Tranquille Sanatorium ~ Kamloops, BC

We love Kamloops and all that it is which includes some of the historical places that have made Kamloops what it is today. One of the many places of interest to me is called Tranquille and I was able to take pictures while most original buildings still exist.  I remember it as a hospital for the mentally handicapped, but it began as the King Edward V11 Sanatorium at Tranquille in 1907.

The King Edward Sanatorium was opened for tuberculosis patients and was one of only a few in Canada at that time.  The Fortune family ranch at Tranquille had been purchased by the Anti-TB Society and the original farmhouse was used to house the ill until the sanatorium was built, partially with the gift of money from Sir Ernest Cassel, given to King Edward to do with as he wished for this project, hence the naming of the building.  It was built to house those with ‘consumption’, one in ten people were contacting the disease at that time.  A cure was found in 1957 and the TB sanatorium was then closed.

King Edward Sanatorium, Kamloops, BC
The sanatorium, most commonly called Tranquille today, was not welcomed by the local townspeople due to their fear of contacting tuberculosis. Kamloops was chosen for its climate and the only treatment for tuberculosis at the time was plenty of rest, fresh air and a proper diet.  The former Fortune ranch continued to operate as a cattle ranch, Holstein dairy cows were also brought in. There were chickens and pigs raised for their contributions. It was a busy working ranch and this made the sanatorium as self-sufficient as possible.

Doctors House at Tranquille Sanatorium
Residences were built for staff that worked and lived here and this one belonged to the doctor for the sanatorium.  The main building was completed in 1910, the administration building in 1912, nurses residence completed in 1913 and the east and west pavilions were built in 1914 and 1915.

Residence at Tranquille Sanatorium
There was housing built for many of the staff but I wasn’t able to determine how many lived here during that time.  There were 450 on staff when the sanatorium was closed down but not all of them would have lived on site.  I do know that this speed sign in the photo was not there during the early days, it is in kilometers.

Greaves Building at Tranquille Sanatorium
Mr. J.B. Greaves, the owner of Douglas Lake Ranch left money for the Anti-TB Society upon his death.  A new building, built after the government had taken over in 1921, was named after Mr. Greaves.  I couldn’t find any information on the mural painted on the building.

Sunken Garden of Tranquille Sanatorium
There is very little left of the once beautiful sunken gardens at the Tranquille Sanatorium but it is a quiet spot where one can only imagine what it would have been like many years ago when those who lived here could enjoy a walk through the garden.

Mural on Main Building at Tranquille
We drive past the bird sanctuary, part of the Tranquille Wildlife Management Area, on our way to Tranquille, which adds to the beauty of this area.  One of the first sights we see as we approach the old Tranquille Sanatorium is the mural on the end of the main building. I would like to offer more information about the murals but nothing has appeared on my search to explain them.
Old barn at Tranquille, Kamloops, BC
In 1958, the sanatorium was opened as an institution for the mentally handicapped and remained that until it was closed permanently in 1984. It was a major employer for Kamloops with up to 600 people working here, still quite self-supporting with the ranch.

Dairy barn at Tranquille, Kamloops, BC
The dairy barn still looks in good repair in this photo.  There is no way that I would want to wander around in here, as I am sure there are some other kinds of ‘animals’ that now reside here and I wasn’t wanting to meet any of them, but a quick look inside for the picture was great.

Laundry press at Tranquille Sanatorium
The laundry was done on the premises and although I didn’t go into the building to see the laundry facility, I did see an old press that was sitting outside, rusty and long past being useful but an interesting piece to see. 

The old school house at Tranquille, Kamloops, BC
There have been stories for years that Tranquille is haunted. This makes for great story telling and movie making and has been the location for several movies in the past, not all scary ones.  This was  home to many people and hopefully it can be remembered for its glory days rather than haunted.

It is always sad to see something as important as this once was to those that lived here as well as the history of the area to be in the condition it is now in. Many had hoped that buildings could be refurbished to be used and appreciated once again, but circumstances have prevented that. There now is a plan in place that will restore the buildings that can be restored and to demolish as few as possible. We can only hope this becomes a reality and that many will be able to enjoy this beautiful place once again. Check this link to view some of these plans for the future.
Here is a current update to April 2013.

Kamloops has a lot of colorful history to enjoy, just another reason why there is no place like home.


  1. You might not be aware of this but my Dad, Walter Robinson worked at Tranquille when he first moved to Kamloops. I have the menu from the staff Christmas Dinner from 1936 in Dad's scrapbook. In the information on the back is says "The bed capacity of the sanatorium which now accomodates 332 patients was being increased to such an extent that the adjoining Cooney ranch was purchased in 1923. This step was taken as it is necessary to produce all milk locally and more cattle required more feed"

  2. My grandfather is in a few photos with cattle branding in Kamloops. In the 800+ photos from that period of 1900-1920, are four of the Sanatorium and two of what appears to be a Welcoming of some English person (many Union jack flags and large Welcome banner). I have just started research on this and found your site. have yet to find another photo of this building with a cross under an eve on the 2nd floor. Sorry, no ghosts in the photo, just regular folk.

  3. Mr. Christopherson,
    The welcoming of an English person you mention would be for King Edward VII, who the sanatorium was named for in 1907.

  4. My uncle Paul was a patient at tranquille after getting TB. He was hospitalized for several years. During that time he made my mom a bracelet out of tin in which he engraved on each link the places he had fought in during the war. He also made my mom a photo album which is beautiful. I never got to meet him. He died there at age 29. So sad. His name was Paul Yuchym.

  5. My father Douglas Vernon Smith was a patient there sometime between 1949 and 1952. I would be interested if there are any patient records for those years as I would like to find out the exact date of his interment. Apparently my mother checked him in then kept on going and as a result I was abandoned as a very young child.

  6. Hi me and my friend are doing a heritage project on the TB sanatorium. Your information has been very helpful and we are hoping you had more information or some contacts for us? If so you can e-mail my teacher at the address from which this comment is posted.


  7. hey people who are interested in Tranquille. It was a beautiful place to grow up. Was born on the gounds and raised thier until it closed at age 16...I have some stories....but it really was beautiful...imagine being a patient....When it was for the handicapped it was great....gardens ,, open air. play gounds, May day parades, walks, sleepy days of summer.. lots of flowers .......hay and corn growing...canadian geese....fruit trees ,,,cows,,pigs,,,hay stakes to climb.. Tranquille creek to fish in,,,.the sunken gardens were full of roses,,,Just roses...the sweet smell. many of the staff houses had big vegtable gardens full....remember picking peas and eating peas.... residence were allowed if able to walk around grounds... .Tranquille had an excellent reputation for patients care...And the tunnels were used by all..the cafateria was central...and in the winter or rainy days made easy to transport patients for breakfast,lunch, and dinner...the landry had cart trains to transport cloths bedding and towels..We played in the tunnels .It was a big play its peak it held 400 residence and 800 staff. Lynn McIntosh

  8. Thank you for posting these photos! And the last comment (Lynn McIntosh) is wonderful to read. Regarding the murals on the buildings, my understanding is that the property was purchased by a private individual after the residential institution shut down in the 1980's. He intended to turn it into some sort of private utopia, and named it Padova City after his ancestral home in Italy. He got as far as having the murals put on the sides of some buildings, but eventually defaulted on his payments to the provincial government, who he bought the property from, and that was the end of that plan. A lot of Kamloops locals still refer to Tranquille as Padova.

  9. I absolutlely love walking the dirt road beside tranquille with the dogs...I find it very peacefull...although Im sure what lurks inside may be anything but!!!...Im a huge history buff and very much enjoyed reading the info above!..just curious..I would love nothing more then to have a look inside the "city"...but thats just not allowed anymore...Is there any new plans to open it to the public or to arrange a private walk through/history lesson?

    1. Hi Tracy,
      They are making plans for development there and those plans can be viewed on a visit to Tranquille on the Lake. I do not know of any history walks but that would be a great idea! I am sure you will learn more from those that live out there but here is a link to another page I posted.

    2. How did you get access to the grounds to take all these pictures? My boyfriend is a photographer and has always wanted to take photos of Tranquille on the Lake. Is there a contact we can reach to set something up?

    3. These photos were taken a few years ago and things have changed since then. I would suggest you ask them out there, I believe there have been tours given but I do not have that info.

  10. On the weekends there are history walkd. I went there yesterday and was greeted by a man in a white truck who told me to come back on a weekend for a guided tour.

  11. My Father Peter White was a TB Patient from the Fall of 1955 to his discharge in the Fall of 1956. He is 81 years old now and lives in Vernon. He has stories to share.

  12. My Father Peter White was a TB Patient from the Fall of 1955 to his discharge in the Fall if 1956.He is 81 years old today and lives in Vernon. He has stories to share.