Remembering the Healing Springs of Eastern Ontario

Dominion House Hotel, Carlsbad Springs, Ontario

Dominion House Hotel, Carlsbad Springs, Ontario

I live in Ottawa, Ontario, very close to a town named Carlsbad Springs. A hundred years ago, Carlsbad Springs was a renowned spa town, with four grand hotels and steeplechase horse racing. It is rumored that Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, stayed at the Dominion House hotel. The Dominion House burned down in 1930 as the North American spa culture died out and it was never rebuilt. The last of Carlsbad Springs’ grand hotels closed in 1968.

When I first moved to Ottawa, there were still ruins of a bridge leading to the spa’s site. Today, there is almost nothing left, just one spring house and a plaque to commemorate the glory days of the springs.  The trees have grown in and Carlsbad Springs is part of suburban Ottawa now, with houses on standard size lots and some townhouse developments not too far away.  There is one original spring house still standing and there is a historical plaque along with a small park commemorating the glory days of Carlsbad Springs.

Carlsbad Springs, March 2015

Carlsbad Springs, March 2015. Russel Road Bridge over Bear Brook

I enjoyed watching the spring water gurgling out from under the spring house on the day I took this picture, which is taken from almost the exact same spot as the one above – if I had gone to the exact same spot, we would have a picture only of trees!  The little spring house to the right of the modern photo is the one to the far left of the old photo (I think!) For a detailed history of these healing springs, see the Carlsbad Springs Community Association’s web page at http://www.carlsbadsprings.ca/?page_id=165

Caledonia Springs Hotel, 1872 Photo Source: Library and Archives, Canada Photo

Caledonia Springs Hotel, 1872
Photo Source: Library and Archives, Canada Photo

In researching this post, I learned that a little east of Carlsbad Springs was the even grander Caledonia Springs. This video, featuring University of Ottawa Chief Archivist Michel Prévost, describes the four springs with their different curative properties, the bottling factory and the hotels frequented by rich members of the elite on doctor-supervised thermal waters cures. The video is in French, but the pictures and ruins are evocative even without the audio.

Mr. Prévost raises a good point that bottle mineral springs water was the only safe water to drink in the days before sanitation. A hundred years ago, drinking water didn’t come out of a tap – you needed a well to find it.

Take some time to think about the history of springs and look around where you live to see if there are some springs that may be almost forgotten.  Let us know what you find!

Ad for Caledonia Springs from Harper’s Bazar, 1879.  Unlike Caledonia Springs, Harper’s is still around!

Hot Springs for Health in France – la cure thermale

It can be very difficult to find information on the science behind the benefits of hot springs in English.  So I turned to France to get a sense of the proven medicinal benefits of springs.

Photo by Romaineolas (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The French health care system has included “thermal medicine” since 1947.  There is a national network of springs spas that provide services covered by the healthcare system, called CNETh.  Each spring has certain specialties, maybe rheumatism, psoriasis, or cardiac diseases.  There is a cancer recovery cure system of 11 or 12 days.  You can easily find a spa that will treat your particular ailment by using this central website.  Your doctor will prescribe the cure and when you attend the spa you will be supervised by a team of doctors and nurses who are trained in thermal medicine.

By Jeunamateur via Wikimedia Commons

About 73% of the prescribed cures in France are for rheumatoid diseases while 11% are for respiratory ailments.  Thermal cures are also used for digestive and skin ailments, psychological and developmental difficulties.  Although its use is fairly widespread, thermal medicine only represents about 0.14% of the overall health budget.

In 2004, the national association started a fund to support research into thermal medicine.  The results of these studies can be found here.  My favourite study was on generalized anxiety disorder, with the control group on a prescription for paroxitene.  After 8 weeks, there was a significant improvement for the springs group.

Here at Hot Springs Aficionado, we try to visit hot springs or spas at least once a month because we can feel a positive effect on our bodies and our minds.  We plan to share a lot more information about how hot springs affect us and how we can use hot springs to bring wellness to our busy modern lifestyle – follow us on social media or by email to learn more about hot springs and health.

As a teaser, here is a video of the pool Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to recover from bouts of polio so that he could continue serving as President of the United States.

 

 

Anne-Renée is a Hot Springs Aficionado!

My name is Anne-Renée and I joined this blog in February 2015. Lee approached me as we share the same love for well-being and relaxation. I am a former fitness competitor turned yogi on a quest to spiritual enlightenment through yoga, meditation practice and nature exploration. I have developed a curiosity and appreciation for spas, wellness retreats and hot springs. My goal is to discover and share my experiences and adventures through this blog.

I am a Hot Springs Aficionado.  Join me!

I am a Hot Springs Aficionado. Join me!

I am a public servant, working for the Government of Canada since 2006 and have been teaching yoga to my work colleagues on our lunch time for the past two years. This has allowed me to consolidate my professional career with a physical & mental health. For the past two years, I have noticed the benefits of yoga and meditation practice to address the high stress levels related to my professional career. I now have a great following and would like to extend this passion for well-being through sharing information on the benefits of spas, well-being retreats and hot springs.

As a highly sensitive person, I am well aware that stressful triggers can damage one’s health, by creating anxiety and eventually deteriorating one’s quality of living. Therefore my pursuit of finding healthy methods to ease tension comes naturally and is important to me. I believe there is a link between happiness and how we take care of our bodies mind and soul. The basics of achieving happiness are doing (a lot) what you love, by living in the present moment and by practicing gratitude.

My role is to inspire, motivate, bring positive thoughts, discover passions, guide you to be introspective, help you live in the present moment while laughing at this rollercoaster called life!  Let’s go hot tubbing’!!