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Medical History

Separate Beds

A History of Indian Hospitals in Canada, 1920s-1980s

by (author) Maureen K. Lux

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Initial publish date
May 2016
History, General, General, History, Native American Studies
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2016
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  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2016
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2016
    List Price

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Separate Beds is the shocking story of Canada’s system of segregated health care. Operated by the same bureaucracy that was expanding health care opportunities for most Canadians, the “Indian Hospitals” were underfunded, understaffed, overcrowded, and rife with coercion and medical experimentation. Established to keep the Aboriginal tuberculosis population isolated, they became a means of ensuring that other Canadians need not share access to modern hospitals with Aboriginal patients.

Tracing the history of the system from its fragmentary origins to its gradual collapse, Maureen K. Lux describes the arbitrary and contradictory policies that governed the “Indian Hospitals,” the experiences of patients and staff, and the vital grassroots activism that pressed the federal government to acknowledge its treaty obligations.

A disturbing look at the dark side of the liberal welfare state, Separate Beds reveals a history of racism and negligence in health care for Canada’s First Nations that should never be forgotten.

About the author

Maureen K. Lux is a post-doctoral fellow at the Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine.

Maureen K. Lux's profile page


  • Winner, Aboriginal History Book Prize awarded by the Canadian Historical Association
  • Winner, Jason A. Hannah Medal awarded by The Royal Society of Canada

Editorial Reviews

"Lux has delivered a book that captures the life and failures of Indian hospitals. For all those working in health care, this is a must read."

University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018

‘Lux has written a must-read book for scholars of history, political science, and public policy.’

Canadian Journal of Political Science vol 50:04:2017

‘separate Beds is an important book. It tells a story not well known by Canadians, or even Canadian historians…. Lux’s book is a useful contribution to the history of colonialism in Canada.’

Canadian Historical Review vol 98:03:2017

‘It is a text best read in small doses to digest and internalize… Separate Beds is a compelling book that should be read widely to foster understanding of our shared histories.’

Canadian Journal of History - vol 53:01:2018

"In painstaking research and matter-of-fact reportage, Associate Professor Lux of Brock University documents Canadian apartheid. Separate Beds: A History of Indian Hospitals In Canada is a riveting and extraordinary account of mistreatment of citizens."

Blacklocks Reporter, Saturday, June 4, 2016

‘Lux’s detailed account will surely be of interest to scholars of Aboriginal history and health care as well as to the people interested in the development of Indian hospitals in Canada.’

Canada’s History October-November 2016

‘This is a must read for anyone interested in the history of Canadian Healthcare, Aboriginal health and treaty rights.’

The Canadian Journal of Native Studies vol 36:02:2016

Other titles by Maureen K. Lux