Primary contactWomen's College Hospital 76 Grenville Street
CA M5S 1B2
As a national historic site, Women’s College Hospital is committed to preserving its unique history. The Miss Margaret Robins Archives of Women’s College Hospital acquires, maintains, preserves and makes available the historical records and artifacts of the institution.
The Miss Margaret Robins Archives of Women’s College Hospital is named in honour of its first archivist. Miss Margaret Robins first came to Women’s College Hospital in 1944 as a nursing student, and joined the hospital’s Department of Obstetrics upon graduation from the School of Nursing in 1947. She would go on to become a clinical instructor in obstetrics, and later a clinical researcher for the Department of Anaesthesia.
In 1967, Miss Robins became the director of the hospital’s medical library, where she took an interest in the historical records, artifacts, furniture, and art collection of Women’s College Hospital. The medical library became the first repository for the hospital’s archival materials, which Miss Robins began actively acquiring, maintaining, and preserving. When Miss Robins retired from the medical library, she established the Archives of Women’s College Hospital in 1992.
Woman’s Medical College was founded in 1883 by Dr. Emily Stowe. The institution sought to offer women the opportunity to practice medicine at a time when their access to the profession was limited, as medical schools in Toronto refused to admit women to the study of medicine.
Although the women’s medical school closed in 1906, when the University of Toronto began admitting women to its medical school, Woman’s Medical College continued to operate as a dispensary. Five years later, in 1911, Women’s College Hospital officially opened as Canada’s first hospital run by and for women.
Throughout its history, Women’s College Hospital has maintained a focus on women’s health-care needs. In 1995, Women’s College Hospital was designated as a national historic site by Parks Canada, as a site of national importance in women’s history. Today, Women’s College Hospital is the first and only independent ambulatory care hospital in Ontario, and the only hospital in Ontario with a primary focus on women’s health.
The Archives documents the rich history of Women’s College Hospital that began in 1883 with the founding of Women’s Medical College. The collection consists of textual records, photographs, graphic materials, architectural drawings, cartographic records, audiovisual recordings, medical equipment and instruments, textiles, artwork, and furniture.
In addition to records from Women’s College Hospital, the Archives’ collection also consists of archival material related to the history of women in medicine, the history of nursing, early hospitals in Canada, and the history of health care restructuring in Ontario.
The Archives is open to the public by appointment only. Please contact the archivist to schedule an appointment.
The historical displays maintained by the Archives throughout the hospital are open to the public during regular hospital hours.
All materials housed in the Archives are non-circulating.
With the assistance of the archivist, researchers may consult archival materials in accordance to the Archives' rules and conditions of access. Materials housed in the Archives may be subject to restrictions under Ontario's Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA) and the Women's College Hospital research policies. Please contact the Archivist for further information.