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Three more reasons to remember the old King’s Daughters’ Hospital

Triplets Bill, Sandra and Peter Ball enjoyed a birthday celebration in Ottawa last year, 50 years after cuddling with mom Hazel in King’s Daughters’ Hospital. - submitted
Triplets Bill, Sandra and Peter Ball enjoyed a birthday celebration in Ottawa last year, 50 years after cuddling with mom Hazel in King’s Daughters’ Hospital.
— image credit: submitted

Good things that normally come in threes for everyone else just happened to occur all at once to Duncan’s Ball family.

Of all the significant events in the history of the former King’s Daughters Hospital in Duncan, the birth of the Ball triplets in 1960 stands out.

Multiple births have become more common with the development of fertility drugs, but were rare in those days.

A display at the Cowichan Valley Museum that runs until Sept. 15 commemorates the centennial of KDH, previously situated where Cairnsmore Place sits today.

Bessie Maitland-Dougall was the driving force in bringing medical care to the people of the valley in the late 19th century.

“By forming a Cowichan chapter of the International Order of the King’s Daughters, a society dedicated to improving people’s lives, Bessie’s efforts culminated in the opening of Duncan’s first hospital on April 4, 1911,’’ noted Kathryn Gagnon, the curator of the Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives.

When Joe and Hazel Ball welcomed Bill, Sandra and Peter into the world, it was big news around town, making the social pages of the Cowichan Leader where Hazel was hailed as Mother of the Year.

“We had all sorts of people interested in it,’’ said Joe Ball, who turns 85 in October and still lives in the valley.

There turned out to be an ironic twist to the triplet saga.

“Peter Postuk Sr, the father, delivered the children, along with several other doctors,’’ pointed out Joe Ball.

Many years later, of course, Postuk’s son Peter Jr., who still has a medical practice in Lake Cowichan, and his wife had triplets.

The original fuss about the Balls started well before Hazel went to the hospital.

The Balls had made a trip to the Calgary Stampede in July of 1960 and got the news upon their return from Postuk Sr.

“He sat us both down, we looked at each other and started to laugh,’’ recalled Joe. “You’ve never seen such a relieved doctor in all your life.’’

The babies were born on Sept. 30, 1960. Sandra weighed four pounds, five and three-quarter ounces, Peter four pounds, three and three-quarter ounces and Bill three pounds, 14 ounces.

Hazel was in hospital the standard five or six days before heading home to an adoring public.

“The gifts from the folks in Duncan, some of them were quite long-lasting,’’ said Joe.

Many individuals also came forward to offer their assistance.

The whole experience left Joe and Hazel with a great admiration for the way they were treated.

“I would say the King’s Daughters Hospital had a whole lot of very committed people — doctors and nurses,’’ said Joe.

The triplets celebrated their 50th birthday last September.

“The three of them were very much alike, but they took three different paths,’’ said Joe.

Unfortunately, Sandra died earlier this year from a bowel condition. Bill is a Presbyterian minister in Ottawa and Peter is currently serving in Afghanistan doing training development.

“What I remember most growing up was the fuss that was made,’’ said Bill when contacted in Ottawa. “When a child grows up with something, you expect that’s normal.

“At various points we’d have someone come by and want to take a picture or do this or that.

“To a degree, it is what it is. I’ve not known anything else. I was in university before I had a bedroom to myself. It’s a very different way of growing up. I never knew a moment alone from the moment we were in the womb. Even there, there were two other people.’’

Joe and Hazel, who turns 84 in December, will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in November. They have two other children, Joe Jr. and Sharon.

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