Bring to Light Tour Update #7: Ninette Sanatorium
By Stephan Reilly (@StephanReilly)
Welcome back to the Bring to Light Tour.
We hopped on a plane and flew from London, Ontario to Winnipeg, Manitoba where we got a new rental car, popped our Bring to Light Tour magnets on the door and got back on the road.
Our next destination is Ninette, a tiny town about 2 hours away from Winnipeg. Here we stopped in to the Ninette Sanatorium, or what used to be the Ninette Sanatorium which was closed in 1972. The buildings are now owned by Ronnie, who was nice enough to give us a tour of the century-old grounds.
The Sanatorium is probably the creepiest stop on our trip. The big, empty buildings used to house those living with tuberculosis (TB) at the beginning of the 20th Century. People from all around Manitoba were sent here to be treated and hopefully recover. It was the largest Sanatorium in the whole province with hundreds of patients over the 62 years it was open.
The sanatorium was also the site of abuse for many First Nations people, who when they contracted tuberculosis were sent to the Ninette Sanatorium. The largest event being the Eskimo Point Outbreak in 1963, where 80 Inuit were sent to the Sanatorium from the Northwest Territories. They endured abuse such as being forced to eat their own vomit and being chained in a dark room by the neck. Many were physically and sexually abused, as reported by APTN.
Some indigenous patients were even experimentally operated on, with doctors removing ribs and sections of lungs to see if that would cure the tuberculosis. Patients were only given a local anaesthetic, and survivors of these gruesome procedures say all they can remember is searing pains.
Some of the buildings have fared better than others over the years. The administration building where Ronnie’s desk and quarters are is in the best shape. It’s got a little museum and visitors center, as well as a kitchen and offices. We started our tour here, going through the museum and making our way back to the other buildings in... worse shape.
We went through different living quarters and common areas, wearing masks because of some mold, and it was like stepping through history. Some artifacts dating all the way back to the 1910s while others more modern. It was honestly like walking through some of the derelict rooms in Bring to Light.
Ronnie left us to walk through one of the buildings by ourselves and that was probably the most scared we’ve felt the entire trip. Going through rooms with leaking ceilings and abandoned beds (at night in the rain) was a little terrifying.
We want to thank Ronnie so much for taking a time to show us around and if you’re interested in learning more about the Sanatorium you can check out the Ninette San Facebook page.
You can also explore the spooky sites we’re visiting — and interact with Bring to Light’s monsters — with our new Augmented Reality (AR) app. Red Meat will be releasing the app in partnership with the tour on mobile, so stay tuned for that release shortly!
We livestreamed our immediate reactions after leaving the Sanatorium, so you can watch that to tide you over until the video is ready: