top of page

Not a dry eye

by Ken Gale 

(from his December 2023 WHS Facebook post)

"I was a youth group member at Central United Church in the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

Someone from the church taped the Eskimo (Inuit) patients, singing several hymns in their native language. The tape was given to church member Barbara Cruise (now Putnam), a French teacher at WCVS. She converted the hymns into phonetics. 

After several practices, the youth group showed up at a Sunday morning service and sang “in their language” to the patients. 

There wasn’t a dry eye in the chapel that day!

My father was a doctor at the Weston Sanatorium on Buttonwood Drive from the early 1950s until his retirement in the late 1980s.

“The San” is now part of West Park Hospital."


Barbara Putnam comments:

"So glad you remembered this day, Ken. I will never forget how happy they were to hear their own language and how loudly they sang!!!


That "someone" who gave me the tape was YOUR FATHER, Godfrey. We hatched the plan together. He took my tape recorder and had a young Inuit woman, his patient, recird the hymn.


To this day, whenever we sing "O Jesus I have promised..." I remember the words we sang and I remember fondly your Dad who made it possible for me"



Ethel Mertens Corry comments:

"What a wonderful story.


I remember going with Marion Stone to lead SS at the San when I was at Central. Had a lot of respect for Dr. Gale and his family."

Ken Gale comments:

"Thank you Barbara for your comments to my post. 


I’m sure the phonetics were slightly different, but I remember them as “Oh mejue rela hokay” as the first line.


(Sorry to anyone who understands Inuit for my memory)! 


Thank for your kind words about dad. Happy New Year to you, Bob, and the family."

"And, thank you Ethel for your kind words. Happy New Year to you and the family."

00:00 / 00:32

December 19, 1963. Toronto Star.

"Christmas in Weston Hospital/Sanitorium* won't be lonely for these three members of an Eskimo family. Their parents, grandmother and great-uncle, are patients. The boy is Semionee, and the girls are Apetek and Nonear. TB is on the increase for the first time since 1949."

* Ed note. The hospital assumed the care of Inuit adults and children with tuberculosis through a government initiative (1962) to help curb the prevalence of TB among this vulnerable population.

1951. Interior (bottom) and exterior (top) of streetcars turned into patient pavillions at the Weston Sanatorium.

bottom of page