A current and historic gem on Vancouver’s East Side

Cottage Hospice, pictured here, is located in a 1924 heritage building in Burrard View Park at 650 N Penticton St. facing Wall St. Not only are the grounds beautiful but it overlooks the North Shore mountains and Burrard Inlet. The building has been renovated but maintains its heritage character.

For people in need of end of life care, it’s a beautiful, calm and supportive place for patients and family and also has rooms for community use. There are only 10 beds in private rooms so the facility is able to give the individual care that is essential at this critical time of life. It’s administered by Bloom Group, formally St. James Community Service Society. It’s founder was a feisty community activist, May Gutteridge. For over 30 years, beginning in 1961, she tried to improve the lives of vulnerable people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES).

A few of the society’s accomplishments:

• Opened a women’s hostel for Aboriginal women in the 1960s at a time when they didn’t qualify for social income assistance.

• Provided counseling, legal aid, health care and job skills for DTES hotel residents.

• Created supported housing facilities, emergency shelters for women & children, mental health care facilities, affordable housing units for low-income residents, administrative income help for those vulnerable to abuse, and a hospice for people with AIDS in the 1990s, all in the DTES. In 1999, Cottage Hospice was renovated and opened after a funding campaign which was generously supported by actress Elizabeth Taylor.

May Gutteridge received the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in 1980 and 1990, and the Order of Canada in 1981.

Bloom Group continues all this work today.

There is a Places That Matter Plaque at the entrance to the Cottage Hospice grounds that reviews a bit of the history of Burrard View Park.

“Burrard View Park was the site of a Children’s Aid home built in 1906 in a remote part of Hastings Townsite. It was commonly known as the ‘Wall Street Orphanage’ in the 1920s, and remnants of its foundations remain in the park. Several other buildings followed, including “Babies Cottage” (1924), which is now Cottage Hospice, managed by St. James Community Service Society. In the early 1930s, on the west side of the park, the Junvenile Detention Home was erected. This imposing building became notorious for its prison-like conditions and was demolished in 1976.”

The former “Babies Cottage” was apparently an orphanage for babies.

Hastings-Townsite was the unincorporated area east of early Vancouver’s boundary at Nanaimo Street. In the beginning days of the Children’s Aids Society (early 1900s), the quality of care for children was far from ideal. This included very poor conditions in the Wall St. Orphanage as well as the Juvenile Detention Home. Unfortunately, the conditions for children in government care today are still very questionable.

Burrard View Park certainly has a checkered past but today the park is a beautiful setting for a loving and caring hospice that gives valued help to patients and their families.