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This article first appeared in the July 18, 2012 issue of the The Low Down to Hull and Back News.External Link Reprinted with permission. Search complete list of Low Down Articles.

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Gonna party like it's 1952

By Lucy Scholey

Don't be late for this very important date. The Wakefield Hospital Garden Party is turning 60 on July 21.

Wakefield Hospital Garden Party
THIS TEA PARTY'S BEEN BREWING FOR 60 YEARS: It's 1970 and that's Wakefield's Norma Geggie (left) and Fran Earle as they appeared back then in a Low Down picture of the hospital's annual fundraiser. Thanks to the Gatineau Valley Historical Society for digging up this little gem.

That means it's time to don those fancy hats and ready your palate for mini sandwiches like you have been doing for the past six decades. But this time, wear a more silly hat if you want.

The theme for the Wakefield hospital fundraiser is going to be Mad Hatter's Tea Party, inspired by "Alice in Wonderland," complete with a pin-the-smile-onthe- Cheshire-cat game for kids.

"You don't have to wear a fancy hat; you can wear a crazy hat," said Leslie Davidson, the executive-director of the Des Collines Health Foundation.

Last year's event raised $4,735 for the hospital and Davidson said they are hoping to net the same amount of funds through donations this year.

This year, they are moving the celebration from the Wakefield Hospital grounds to Les Trois Erables bed and breakfast, which is nearer the village core. It's also fitting because it's the former home of area pioneer doctors Hans Stevenson and Harold Geggie.

The theme and venue change are a bit of a shakeup from the traditional teas in years past. hat," said Leslie Davidson, the executive-director of the Des Collines Health Foundation.

Wakefield Hospital Garden Party
Nurses stand with Dr. Harold Geggie in 1955. Front row: Gisele Eiserer, (from Austria), Lab Technician Betty Newcommon, June Wagner (from England), Pamela Greenhalgh (from England). Back row: Unknown, unknown, Dr. Harold Geggie, unknown and Elizabeth McFaul (from England). Photo courtesy Gatineau Valley Historical Society.

Wakefield resident Norma Geggie has been to every garden party except the first year in 1952 because she did not yet live in the area. hat," said Leslie Davidson, the executive-director of the Des Collines Health Foundation.

"It was the social event of the year," she said, adding that the government did not own the hospital; it belonged to the community. hat," said Leslie Davidson, the executive-director of the Des Collines Health Foundation.

Hospital auxiliary groups, made up mostly of women, from as far north as Kazabazua and as far south as Chelsea, would sell aprons, used books and baked goods at the makeshift booths built by their husbands. The night before every tea party, a group would meet in someone's home to make sandwiches. hat," said Leslie Davidson, the executive-director of the Des Collines Health Foundation.

A big banner flanked the hospital - then named the Gatineau Memorial which is now Le Manior seniors' residence - and hundreds would crowd onto the property. The women wore hats and gloves, and the men wore suit jackets. They each paid a fifty-cent entrance fee. hat," said Leslie Davidson, the executive-director of the Des Collines Health Foundation.

Wakefield Hospital Garden Party
BLAST FROM THE PAST: Revellers take in the festivities at the Hospital Garden Party in 1963 in Wakefield. Photo courtesy GVHS.

The hospital changed hands in 1996, when it moved to the newly built location on Burnside Drive and was renamed the Wakefield Memorial Hospital. hat," said Leslie Davidson, the executive-director of the Des Collines Health Foundation.

Now there are other fundraiser events for the Des Collines Health Foundation - like the Arthur Brown Golf Tournament and the Christmas Craft Fair at Ski Vorlage - which Geggie said could detract from the garden party, which is less of a to-do compared to its early years. But, she added, people are still greatly supporting their hospital. hat," said Leslie Davidson, the executive-director of the Des Collines Health Foundation.

So don't be late for the potato sack races and tea at Les Trois Erables, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on July 21.

Wakefield Hospital Garden Party
A crowd of people line up to see the newly minted Gatineau Memorial Hospital in March 1952. Photo courtesy Gatineau Valley Historical Society.
Wakefield Hospital Garden Party
Official opening of Gatineau Memorial Hospital, Wakefield. In front Federal or Provincial officials cutting ribbon. Gerard Desjardins MLA for Gatineau County, Dr. Harold Geggie Supt. in background. Bob Cunningham & John Gnaedinger, hospital Board members (in background) March 1952. Photo courtesy Gatineau Valley Historical Society.
Wakefield Hospital Garden Party
FUNDRAISIN' SINCE '52: (From left): Ross Shouldice, William Barrett, Dr. Harold Geggie raise the bar outside the old Wakefield Hospital (now Le Manoir seniors' residence) in 1952. Photo courtesy Gatineau Valley Historical Society.