Newsletter November 2008

November 21, 2008



Chris Dooley is a Doctoral Candidate at York University.

Last year, in designing a new course in the history of Canada’s welfare state, I became acutely aware of the extent to which health history, as practised in Canada, is largely divorced from a wider history of twentieth century state formation. This is unfortunate, and I believe that Canadian historians of health and medicine would benefit from a closer attention to politics and political economy, subjects they have largely ceded to political scientists and sociologists. Practitioner history may offer part of the solution. Paying close attention to the experience of practitioners like nurses helps us to discern the institutional logics of health care systems and the bureaucratic and political apparatus that support them. In sum, I think that we need to begin to write a new history of health and medicine in Canada – one that articulates with the history of welfare state formation – and I think that historians of nursing can play an important role in writing it.

I can offer an example from my current work on how Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs) in Western Canada negotiated post-war changes in mental health care. After 1957, Canada’s governments negotiated federal-provincial sharing of hospitalization costs, and this created a powerful incentive for provinces to remove psychiatric services to the general hospital system. With the advent of Medicare a decade later, this incentive was extended to include the clinics of private psychiatrists and general practice physicians. Innovative alternatives to hospital-based care – like the

revolutionary Saskatchewan Plan for Mental Health, based on freestanding community psychiatric centres – were abandoned as
unaffordable when they were deemed ineligible for cost-sharing. Such changes held particular peril for RPNs, whose occupational status had depended on their role as the favoured ancillaries to institutional psychiatrists and for whom the shift to general hospitals produced bitter inter-occupational conflict with Registered Nurses and Social Workers.

The experience of the RPNs reminds us that the configuration of health and welfare systems are products of negotiation between institutions and groups operating within a wider political economy. Many scholars and practitioners have long understood that the arrangements spelled-out in federal-provincial agreements have created strong fiscal incentives for provinces to centralize services in general hospitals and private clinics, privileging acute over preventive care and consolidating the gatekeeper role of the general practice physician. This has not, however, been widely engaged by historians, and I think, the time is ripe to begin to write a new history of Medicare that is attentive to the attenuations and foreclosures produced by the political exigencies and material realities of its creation.

Here, nursing history has much potential: it has long been concerned with such things as inter-occupational conflict, professional and organizational dynamics, the politics of knowledge production, and the valuation of caring work. Similarly, it has long been concerned with the ways in which practitioners have navigated the institutional changes that have accompanied the twentieth century evolution of a state-funded health care apparatus. It is, I believe, a venue, par excellence, to do this type of history, and historians of nursing can be exemplars for a wider historical community.



Work on finding permanent destinations for the Allemang collection of archival materials continues. Our goal is to sustain our focus on archives by advising and assisting anyone requesting help with the disposition of their archival materials while reducing our actual holdings. Recently we donated our set of bound copies of the Canadian Nurse 1905-1979 to the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. As most of these volumes originally came from the Toronto General Hospital Nursing School library, it is good to know they will again be available to nursing students. Library staff was delighted to acquire the volumes. Jill Robertson of the Toronto East General Hospital Museum and Archives was likewise very happy to receive, on permanent loan, the Gloria Kay Cap Collection. As Gloria was an East General graduate TEGH seemed a particularly fitting home for the caps. Jill has already mounted an impressive public display that included over 30 of the caps. We are still looking for
a suitable home for artefacts and memorabilia.

The History of Nursing Writing Prize was awarded in 2007 to Trish Rossiter a graduate student at the University of Ottawa School of Nursing.

After several years of planning the CAHN/ACHN International nursing History Conference was held this past June at the University of Toronto, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. The Allemang Centre contributed financially to the Conference and Carol Helmstadter and Judy Young co-chaired the local arrangements committee. Several Allemang members attended. Evaluations of the conferences were very positive.

Four issues of the newsletter were mailed to members during the year and a special vote of thanks is due to Dorothy Wylie for her able work as editor. Thanks also to Jaime Lapeyre, Board member, who had agreed to assist Dorothy with this important production of the association. The newsletter continues to represent us externally extremely well.

Our website has been significantly revised and updated this year to reflect the importance of external representation and information sharing. Judy Young has taken on responsibility for regular updates to the site.

Future plans include an oral history project. Members note that a number of senior and influential nurse leaders should be approached to contribute their perspectives and experiences to an oral history data base. We plan to replicate the methodology used by the Sudbury group to move this forward.
Membership has remained steady at 70.

Respectively submitted.
Kathleen MacMillan, President
October 2008

AGM Business

It was agreed that $1000 would be budgeted toward the Oral History project.

It was moved that the term “Society” be used in public communications rather than Centre. The latter term implies a physical facility, which is misleading to the public and users of the archives. Our mandate is to provide assistance to those wishing to obtain nursing history information, not to store archival materials.

 A Talk on the Quo Vadis School of Nursing 1964-1982

A highlight of the AGM was a presentation by Bruce Weber (1975 Quo Vadis graduate) on the history of the  School of Nursing. As part of the presentation, he showed the 1968 film “Experienced Hands”, made by the National Film Board about the school. Bruce’s talk was enhanced by the presence of alumni members and instructors, which provided for a stimulating discussion about the history and lives of the graduates.

The Quo Vadis School of Nursing was established in 1964 as an answer to the nursing shortage. It was a two-year program designed specifically for mature women (30-50) who would make a career of nursing and bring stability to the nursing profession. The idea arose from a study of nursing by Catherine D. McLean (a social worker with expertise in adult education) for the Catholic Hospital Conference of Ontario. The concept was a very forward thinking effort to stem the attrition rate in schools of nursing at the time. The demand for nurses was great as more hospitals were being built. The school was first housed in two old houses provided by St. Joseph’s Hospital and offered by Reverend Sister Marion, then Director of that School of Nursing. Quo Vadis moved later to a new campus at the Queensway Hospital.

Miss Margaret Mackenzie RN AM was chosen to head the school and she came with an impressive list of credentials. There were many political, social and professional hurdles to overcome and the enthusiasm of McLean and Mackenzie and many others spurred the project forward. The first class of thirty-two women entered in September 1964 and in 1966 twenty-eight graduated. Life as a student nurse for these pioneers was not easy. The average age was forty-two, many were married or widowed and had children and
grandchildren. As any new endeavour in nursing they met with resistance from other nurses. There was also a great deal of publicity, which further heightened their anxiety to do well.

The school prevailed successfully for ten years. However, in 1973 the province of Ontario elected to put all schools of nursing into the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAATS) to provide a broader education for nurses. Miss Mackenzie, the Board and alumni tried desperately to retain the school intact, but were unsuccessful. The school was transferred to Humber College and lost its independence and basic set of principles and policies. Quo Vadis existed as an independent school for ten years, and as part of Humber College for eight years.

(Excerpts from “I’d Quit If I Had The Time”: the story of the QUO VADIS school of nursing, by Kay Piersdorff. ISBN 0-9694872-0-7.
Published by THE QUO VADIS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, 347 Rumsey Road, Toronto ON M4G 1R7).
Copies of the book are available from Bruce Weber, 3 Oneida Avenue, Toronto (Island), ON M5J 2E2. 416 203-0911
Email: bruceweber@hotmailcom

Research opportunity in adult education outcomes

Quo Vadis was a unique project in Adult Education. The school had the lowest dropout rate in Canada, achieved some of the highest passing standards, and trained almost 1000 nurses, who took up long and dedicated careers.
Anyone interested in doing research on this era of nursing should contact Bruce Weber.


Kathleen MacMillan President
Lynn Kirkwood Vice President
Judy Young Secretary
Jaime Lapeyre
Kathryn McPherson
Dorothy Wylie

Book Review


This excellent history of the Aboriginal Nurses deserves to be in every nursing library in Canada. An easy-to-read and informative book, it looks at four periods using primary records of the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada and the National Archives and drawing on a wide range of oral histories and interviews.

The first period, covering 1900 to 1945, touches on discrimination and barriers to education and nursing programs, but also tells of inroads that a few determined Aboriginal students made. The second period, 1945 to 1969, describes expansion in nursing generally and in the Medical Services Branch, which provided health care to Aboriginal peoples; this helped to allow more vocational training—but students (and patients) still faced racism in the educational system, workplace, and society. The next period, 1969 to 1989, examines some changes and the growing determination of people of Aboriginal ancestry to improve health and recruit Aboriginal students into the health professions. During this period, the inaugural meeting of the Registered Nurses of Canadian Indian Ancestry (fore-runner of the Indian and Inuit Nurses Association, now the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada) was held. This section also identifies some of Canada’s charismatic and innovative Aboriginal nursing leaders. The fourth period, 1989-2006, shows how the Aboriginal nurses have brought to light new educational and health issues and emphasized a growing awareness that health is not just physical, but interconnects with psychological and spiritual aspects.

The list of references, most of them indicating primary sources, is excellent. There are a few trivial quibbles about the book: there is no index and no bibliography and the individual nurses in the many of the delightful photographs are not identified. But these are minor in light of the superb and insightful content. The title of the book comes from a quote from Carol Prince, Aboriginal RN: “I’ve had to work twice as hard to prove myself. But in the end, I am twice as good.” Please, if you have influence with a nursing library, encourage the staff to include this book in its collection. Price is $40 plus 15% shipping and handling. Further information can be obtained from ANAC, 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa, ON K1P 5A9 or from the web site
Reviewed by Glennis Zilm.
(Excerpted from BC History of Nursing Society News. Vol. 19 [issue 3] October 2008, page 11.)

Call for Papers
The Canadian Society for the History of Medicine joining with the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing is issuing a call for papers for a joint conference at Carleton University, Ottawa, from May 29-31, 2009. The theme of the 2009 Congress of the Social Sciences and humanities is: Capital Connections: nation, terroir, territoire.
Abstracts on other topics are also welcome4.
See for details.

News Items


The Psychiatric/Mental health residency Program was inaugurated in September 2008 across five tertiary care mental health centres in Ontario. The program is a collaboration between the Ministry of Health and LongTerm Care, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene, Providence Care Mental Health Services, Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, and Whitby Mental Health Centre. In partnership with nursing programs at Alconquin College, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), and the University of Ottawa.

The three-month residency program allows nurses to develop and enhance mental health and addiction competencies through an innovative curriculum that includes protected clinical time, collaborative learning, and mentored clinical practice. The program will help to recruit and retain nurses for the mental health field and provide improved care for patients.
(Excerpted from Hospital News, October 2008, 29.)


November 13th marks the opening day of one of the most significant projects of the Museum of Health Care. The first permanent gallery will be dedicated to the history of nursing at Kingston General Hospital. The exhibit will explore the training, work, and residence life of the more than 3000 students who attended the school between 1886 and 1974. The aim of this project is to bring the original function of the Ann Baillie Building back to life to allow for a more complete interpretation of its significance as a National Historic Site commemorating the history of nursing education in Canada. Arranged thematically, the display of artefacts will be drawn from the Museum’s comprehensive nursing collection. A key feature in the two-room gallery will be a student bedroom restored to the late 1920s period. Complementing the objects and other archival materials in the exhibit will be recorded and transcribed recollections of many women who attended the school over the years.
(The BAILLIEwick, July, 2008).

2008 AGM

Kaaren Neufeld RN MN was installed as the 43re president of CNA. She is Chief Quality Officer, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Assistant Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Manitoba.

Judith Shamian PhD was acclaimed as the new president-elect. She is President and CEO of VON Canada. Judith is well known nationally and internationally in the nursing profession.

Rachel Bard has been appointed chief executive officer of CNA effective January 5, 2009. She is a past president of CNA and has represented Canada on the ICN and international work groups. She has worked as a nurse in Mental Health for 27 years, in clinical, administrative and educational fields.

Judith Oulton received the Jeanne Mance Award for her impact on nursing practice in Canada and internationally. She is a former Executive Director of CNA and has held various teaching and administrative positions in her home province of New Brunswick.

Linda McGillis Hall received the Order of Merit for Research. She is Associate Dean, Research and External Relations and Associate Professor, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, U of T. In 2007, Linda was the first Canadian nurse to be inducted as an American Academy of Nursing International Fellow.


A $500,000 gift from the estate of Bluma Appel has been given to support nursing student awards at the School. Undergraduate awards will receive a boost of $300,000 and graduate awards will receive $200,000. Graduate awards are earmarked for the areas of: pain management, neuroscience, or palliative care.
The endowments are eligible for matching funds from the Government of Ontario. The awards were made in honour of Jeannie Butler, a longtime friend of the benefactor. Butler, a registered nurse, is an enthusiastic supporter and volunteer with the LSB Faculty of Nursing.
Appel was a Toronto activist, arts supporter and philanthropist, well known for her support of health care causes. In 2006 she received an honorary degree from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the LSB Faculty of Nursing. (

The School of Nursing has been renamed The Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, named after Jack Cockwell’s mother who was a nurse. Mr. Cockwell is a member of Ryerson’s Board of Governors, and is Group Chairman of Brookfield Asset Management. He said, “I am proud that the School of Nursing now bears my mother’s name. The School’s students, faculty, staff and alumni are outstanding health-care professionals who share her pride in compassionate care of the highest standard”.
The first nursing research day was held in June, 2008. The event featured sessions on issues such as women’s health and nursing professional practice.

Janice Waddell was appointed Associate Dean of the Faculty of Community Services and is also a faculty member in the school of nursing.

Carol Fine, Associate Director of the post-diploma degree program received two prestigious awards in April. The first, the Leadership in Nursing Education (Academic Award), was presented by the RNAO. The second, the 2008 Teaching Excellence Award presented by the Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing. Carol retired in August 2008, along with Professor Kathy Gates.
(Excerpts from The Front Line, Ryerson University, Fall 2008).

McGee, Barbara Ann died October 11, 2008 in her 81st year. Barbara Bradley of Beaver Valley was the beloved wife of Don. Loving mother of David (Keri) and Leslie (Jim) Bowles. She was educated and trained for nursing at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, graduating in 1950. After her marriage she established her career in Orono and Richmond Hill as Director of Nursing in Public Health and Nursing Home Inspection. After retiring in 1984, they moved to their Beaver Valley residence and continued working in Don’s business until 1999. Her love for family, friends, pets, and gardening kept her inspired right up until her passing.

Rayner, Phyllis Marie Gallagher, died peacefully as the sun rose in Brantford, ON, on June 20, 2008. Predeceased six months ago by her beloved soulmate and husband of 56 years, George. Born October 3, 1922 in Winnipeg, she graduated from St. Boniface Hospital (1944), and the University of Toronto (PHN 1950). For many years she was a public health nurse in Brantford, retiring in 1988 as Acting Director.

A tireless volunteer, organizer, and crusader for social justice. Phyllis was the first female chair of St. Joseph’s Hospital Board (Hamilton). Past chair of: the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital Community Advisory Board; the Canadian Mental Health Association Task Force on Housing for the Psychiatrically Disabled; and the Mohawk College Studies in Aging Advisory Committee. A founding member of the Nova Vita women’s shelter, and a past board member of the Brant County Children’s Aid Society, the Brant District Health Council, the Children and Youth Services Council, and the Brant and Brantford Housing Authority. She also worked on the Ontario Provincial Psychiatric Hospitals Strategic Planning Committee, and at the Ontario Board of Parole. A lifelong Liberal, Phyllis served as president of the Brantford Liberal Party. She was also a Companion of the Sisters of St. Joseph. She was awarded the Canada 125 medal in 1992, and the JAD Marquis Award for her contribution to health care in Brant in 1995. Last month (May) she was delighted to be presented with the Mission Legacy Award by the St. Joseph’s Healthcare System. Phyllis will long be remembered for her incredible joie de vivre, wicked sense of humour, common sense, and quest for adventure.

History of Nursing Writing Prize
The Allemang Centre is offering a prize of $500 for the best essay in the history of nursing written by a student in the year September 2008 through June 2009.
Criteria for submissions:
1. The paper may deal with any topic in the history of nursing in any period and in any country.
2. Papers should be a minimum of 8 pages, and a maximum of 25 pages in length including footnotes.
3. Both undergraduate and graduate students may submit.
4. The student must be enrolled in a university or community college in Ontario. Students from any faculty, including nursing, social science, humanities and science, are invited to apply.

The deadline for submission is June 30, 2009. The prize will be awarded at the 2009 AGM.

Papers may be submitted either by e-mail or in hard copy. Electronic copies should be in Microsoft Word and include academic affiliation, address, telephone and fax numbers. Students submitting in hard copy should send three copies. The first copy should have the name, academic affiliation, address, telephone, fax and e-mail. The remaining two copies should have no identification.

Please send papers to:
Lynn Kirkwood
570 McCann Road, Portland, ON, K0S 1V0

Membership Renewal
Remember to renew your membership for 2009. Your support is needed to carry out our mandate of information sharing to promote and preserve nursing history.

Editor Newsletter
Dorothy Wylie. Please contact her regarding news items, short articles, announcements, etc.
All contributions are welcome.
223-602 Melita Crescent, Toronto, ON, M6G 3Z5


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