Its full title, the ‘International Order of King’s Daughters & the King’s Daughters Hospital’ originated in New York in 1886 and was made up of a group of middle and upper class women whose purpose was to do good deeds in God’s name. In 1886, Bessie Maitland-Dougal arrived in the Cowichan Valley and by 1887 founded the first Circle of the King’s Daughters in Canada and was the first president of the provincial group. Mrs. Maitland-Dougal died in 1904 and the provincial body of the King’s Daughters adopted the Duncan Convalescent Home as its project in her memory.
King’s Daughters’ Hospital was ‘founded by women, run by women’. The King’s Daughters supported the Hospital by making hospital linens and they sold handiwork such as knitting and baking in order to raise money for the Hospital. The women ran the hospital both on the board of trustees and as staff. The Hospital opened on April 4, 1911 and served the Cowichan Valley for 56 years on Hospital Hill, overlooking Somenos Lake. The Hospital was a well-known training centre for nurses.
The mandate of the Hospital was to ‘take in accident and emergency cases; to receive convalescents and broken down women, build up their strength and turn them out a little more fit. Also to take men who became ill away from home and give them the needed hospital care’.