In the spring of 1905, then Petrolia mayor John D. Noble was presented
with a petition from a group of prominent citizens who were calling for
the establishment of a hospital in their fair town.
Charlotte Eleanor Englehart
Noble agreed and wasted no time in calling a public meeting to gather further input from the community.
subsequently appointed a five-member committee to work with the public
and the town’s medical community in drafting a strategy for attaining
the much desired facility.
However, upon assessing the town’s fiscal
realities those involved soon realized that to accomplish such a
gargantuan task an “angel” would have to emerge to provide the financial
After all, there were very few towns in Ontario the size of Petrolia that could boast a fully-accredited hospital.
several years later, as though by the hand of divine providence, that
angel did appear in the person of Charlotte Eleanor Englehart, the wife
of prominent Petrolia oil man, and Imperial Oil founder Jacob Englehart.
Lewis Englehart,was an American-born entrepreneur who arrived in
Petrolia in 1880 via London, Ontario, where he had been engaged in oil
production and refining for a number of years.
If not wealthy upon
his arrival here, he certainly was shortly thereafter, mainly from the
success of his his Petrolia-based Silver Star Refinery, which at that
time was Canada’s largest oil refinery.
He subsequently merged the
Silver Star with elements of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company
and became a founding partner in one of Canada’s great corporations,
Imperial Oil Ltd.
On Dec. 29, 1891, he married Charlotte Eleanor
Thompson of Adelaide Township and as a wedding gift to his wife,
bestowed upon her Glenview, an imposing red brick Victorian mansion with
circular turrets set on an impeccably landscaped property which
included a beautiful nine-hole golf course.
By all indications the
Engleharts led a happy, albeit busy, life at Glenview with Jake focusing
on his business interests and Charlotte taking an active role in
community and church activities.
She, being a devout and active member of Christ Church Anglican.
less than two decades later Charlotte encountered health problems and
following a two-year illness died a relatively young women on Dec. 31,
It was widely reported that her untimely death cast a pall over the entire community.
her will, Charlotte bequeathed her stately home, Glenview, with its
attendant property and buildings, including the beautiful golf links
that adjoined it, to the Town of Petrolia, that it may be used as a
The only restriction to that was that it would occur only after the death of her husband, Jake.
However, Jake Englehart was of a generous nature and obviously construed it as his duty to see his wife’s wishes carried out.
abandoned the house almost immediately to make way for the
establishment of the town’s new hospital, adding a substantial legacy
fund to ensure the hospital would be self-sustaining.
On Jan.31, 1911
Charlotte Eleanor Englehart hospital was opened with a compliment of 17
beds, which over the years has seen a number of expansions, renovations
Since its inception, Charlotte’s House, as it is
affectionately known by many of the locals, has remained a highly
regarded and even loved facility in the community.
Anyone who has
visited CEE or been a patient there can attest to the personal quality
of the care provided by a dedicated and attentive staff and physicians.
as counter intuitive as it may seem, every so often outside forces
arise in an attempt to curtail, or in some way diminish, the excellent
services provided by Charlotte Eleanor Englehart hospital to a very
appreciative rural community.
The continued operation of C.E.E.H. is,
and always has been, a motherhood issue within the Town of Petrolia and
surrounding municipalities and will continue to be.
In the Petrolia area, no other issue galvanizes the community like a perceived threat to its beloved hospital.
C.E.E.H has now transcended its 100th anniversary, residents of
Petrolia and its surrounding communities have every reason to remain
optimistic that Charlotte’s House will continue to be a functioning part
of this growing and vibrant community.
Charlotte Eleanor Englehart