Ethel Johns spent her early life in North Wales, as an adolescent accompanying her parents to the Wabigoon Indian reserve in northern Ontario. She attended the Winnipeg General Hospital Training School for Nurses, and worked at various nursing positions before becoming superintendent of The Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg in 1915.
Attendance at Columbia University in 1914 had convinced her that the goal for nursing education should be affiliation with a university. In 1919, Ethel Johns received a joint appointment as Superintendent of Nurses at VGH and the first Director of the Department of Nursing at UBC, where she implemented a strong, science-based liberal education. Under her guidance, the five year program leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing was established. She resigned in 1925 and after some years in the US, she returned to Canada in 1933, where she became editor and business manager of The Canadian Nurse until her retirement in 1944. She received the Agnes Snively Memorial Medal in 1940 and an honorary Doctor of Laws from Mount Allison University in 1948. Her writings include three books, sixteen pamphlets, and more than one hundred articles and editorials. In 2009 she was designated a National Historic Person of Canada.
Because of her community activism, Catherine Jensen was known by many as the unofficial mayor of the West End (Vancouver). She opposed development proposals and rezoning, and was a key figure in removing the prostitute trade from the West End. Her efforts helped create the West End Community Centre and Gordon Neighbourhood House. She frequently expressed her views in the West End Times.
In 1937 she graduated from the Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing, and subsequently studied Operating Room Technology in New York. She worked at VGH from 1937-1940 and 1948-1971, where she set up a post-anesthetic room and participated in the major post WW II advances in modern medicine. She was particularly moved by her time at Haro Park Children’s Hospital.
Rose was registered as a BC nurse in 1924 and was a member in good standing of the California State Nurses’ Association for 1926-27
Margaret Johnstone was active in the Canadian National Association of Trained Nurses, serving on numerous committees and championing the elevation of standards for nurses and hospitals. She was a founding member of the BC Hospital Association in 1918, and active in the early days of the Canadian Hospital Association. She helped lay the foundations for the Survey of Nursing Education in Canada.
Born in Nova Scotian, she graduated from Boston City Hospital School of Nursing in 1899. After a decade working in private nursing in the US, she came to Vancouver, where she owned and operated a highly successful 22-bed private Butte Street hospital from 1912 to 1928. From 1925-1927, she was President of the Graduate Nurses Association of BC.
Eleanor took her initial nursing training at St. Paul’s Hospital, graduating in 1944 and later received her BSc from UBC and her MA from Columbia University. She worked mainly as an educator, first at St. Paul’s Hospital, and later for the RNABC, the Division of TB Control (Canada) and the New York Medical College (US).
In 1959 she started the first of many contracts with WHO, establishing the first nursing school in Iran. She also continued her role as educator with WHO projects in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Burma.
Although she suffered severe discrimination because of her Japanese ancestry, May’s Christian faith and personal values provided a basis for her positive vision of life. While her internment during WW II forced her to leave her nursing training at VGH, she was eventually one of two oriental girls accepted for training at Guelph General Hospital, graduating in 1946. She worked in the Public Health system in Toronto, and received a diploma in Public Health nursing (UofT) and, later, a BSN (UBC) in 1976 She retired from Holy Family Hospital in 1984 as the Assistant Director of Nursing. Her sister, Yasuko Yamazaki, graduated from VGH in 1938., received a diploma in PHN from UBC in 1939 and was the first Japanese public health nurse in Vancouver.
Married to the Reverend Takashi Komiyama, she was also active in the United Church, raising concerns about the acceptance and recognition of all visible minorities. In 1991 she received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the Vancouver School of Theology at UBC.
Elinor was born in Copenhagen, and emigrated to Canada where she took nursing at UBC. She nursed at the Royal Columbian Hospital in 1968-1969, for a UBC Family Practice unit from 1969-1972, and as a Public Health Nurse from 1972 to 1980 in Maple Ridge. While she retired from nursing when her first daughter was born, she remained active as a volunteer,
Born in Middlesex, England, where she received her early education, Helen King came to Canada after World War I, providing escort for a group of orphaned children under the auspices of Dr. Bernardo. She graduated from the VGH School of Nursing in 1927, and worked at the Williams Lake War Memorial Hospital for several years.
In 1935 she became head nurse in maternity at VGH, and then in 1942-1943 enrolled in the teaching and supervision course at the McGill School for Graduate Nurses. She returned to VGH was appointed clinical instructor and then Assistant Director of Nursing in 1945 and Director of Nursing in 1952, where she served until her retirement in 1964. Her interest in and concern for nurses, nursing practice and nursing education was a lifetime commitment. She was an active member of the VGH SON Alumnae Association and served on RNABC committees. A Helen Margaret King Memorial Bursary was established at the Registered Nurses Foundation of BC.
Born in Revelstoke, Heather moved to Vancouver with her family in 1923. She graduated from UBC with her BA in 1928, and from VGH in nursing in 1930. The next year she received her BASc in nursing and the BC Government Award in Public Health Nursing. Following graduation, she was staff nurse, later supervisor at the Cowichan Health Centre. From 1937 to 1939 she attended the University of Toronto, where she was awarded a Masters in Public Health Nursing.
As BC’s first Director of Public Health Nursing, she enhanced public health through such activities as preschool immunization programs and well-baby clinics. Her monthly newsletter, Public Health Nursing, fostered collegiality and communication among nurses.
In 1945 she joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and was stationed in Greece. On her return the next year she was appointed nurse-in-charge of the Outpatient Department at Shaughnessy Hospital 1946-1971. In her retirement she continued her love of sewing, creating treasured handicrafts for family members and supported many charities.
Dolores’ education included an RN from Marymount School of Nursing in Sudbury in 1960, followed in 1973 by a BA in Sociology from Laurentian University in the same city. She received her MA in Adult Education from Central Michigan University in 1980, and a further MA from the University of Calgary in 1988. From 1974 she raised her three children as a single parent.
After working as a staff nurse in different hospitals, she became a nurse educator at Oilfields Hospital in Black Diamond, Alberta. From 1990 until her retirement in 2002 she was the Director of the Wellness Hospital at the Peace Arch Hospital. Her many achievements here include the Diabetes Education Program, osteoporosis and breast cancer groups, and a seniors’ substance awareness group. She was nominated for the YWCA Woman of Distinction award.
Mary Parkinson was born in Blackburn, England, and migrated to Canada in 1911, where her family settled in Esquimalt. She entered nursing school at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria in 1927, initially receiving $5 a month. On graduation she worked privately for various people, marrying in 1935. After marriage she remained active in nursing organizations, and when her children left home, a refresher course in 1965 helped her resume active nursing. She worked in the offices of various doctors and also at the Royal Jubilee Hospital on private duty and at private homes.
Margaret Kerr was born in Amherst, Ontario; after qualifying as a teacher in Vancouver she taught two years in Kaslo. She graduated from VGH in 1925 was one of the early graduates (in 1926) from the UBC nursing program. She was a school nurse for 2 years and with the support of a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship she graduated with a Master of Arts from Columbia University in 1929. Subsequently she taught public health nursing for fourteen years at UBC. During these years, she was active in professional organizations.
In 1944 she was elected President of the RNABC, and in the same year joined the staff of The Canadian Nurse. In her more than twenty years as editor she made this journal a leader in its field; by the time of her retirement it reached 113 countries outside Canada. Margaret’s objective was to further the cause of her profession, to develop a body of well-informed nurses and to encourage them to write so that others might benefit from their experiences.
Contents of Biographical File
A well-known educator with a varied career, Dorothy Kergin graduated from the VGH School of Nursing in 1951 and with a BSN from UBC in 1952. She became a public health nurse with the BC government from 1952 – 1963. She received both her MPH and PhD from Ann Arbor Michigan. She was Associate Dean of Health Sciences at McMaster University from 1970-1979, and Director of the School of Nursing at the University of Victoria from 1980-1988. During her tenure there, distance education programs for registered nurses expanded using the newly established Knowledge Network.
Dr. Kergin showed leadership in developing the following: joint appointments between nursing faculty and heath care agencies; the nurse practitioner program; and a collaborative arrangement between the university and the Aga Khan foundation for the establishment of a school of nursing in Pakistan. She received the RNABC Award of Merit in 1986, the Jeanne Mance Award, and the Ethel johns Award.
Nan received her RN from VGH in 1933, and spent the next nine years as a general and private duty nurse. After receiving a diploma in public health from UBC ,she spent the next eight years as a public health nurse in Rossland, the Upper Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. She received her BSN from UBC in 1954 and spent four years with WHO as a public health nursing consultant in East Pakistan and Iran.
She returned to study for her Masters’ in Nursing at the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1959 she joined the RNABC as Director of Education services and became Executive Director in 1970. For the next eight years she managed the dramatic change that growth and changing concepts in nursing education brought to the profession. Her work was recognized in 1978 with her being awarded the RNABC Award of Merit and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Victoria.
Shirley Kelly took her nursing training at Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Orillia and did post-graduate training in operating room techniques and management at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. She was a military nurse from 1951 to 1961 and an Operating Room supervisor from 1967 to 1973; she worked as an operating room staff nurse and supervisor at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge, Ontario from 1973 until her retirement in 1988. She describes the highlight of her career as ten years as a military nurse, with ten months in Japan and Korea.
Catharine graduated from the Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Campbelton, New Brunswick, later receiving a Bachelor of Nursing from McGill University and a Master of Science and Certificate in nurse-midwifery from Columbia University. After a number of nursing positions in Eastern Canada, she worked for the federal Indian Health Service from 1950 to 1976, mostly in isolated northern regions. She describes her Quebec postings in Barochois and Fort George as most significant “in terms of my own professional growth, confidence and spirituality”.
Ellen Wheeler was born in Sedley, Sask. and took her nursing training at St. Boniface School of Nursing in Manitoba. She later received a Public Health Nursing certificate from UBC in 1946, and an advanced certificate from UofT in 1966. She served in the South African military from 1941 to 1944, spending some time with them in the Middle East. Most of her later career, from 1959 until her retirement in 1980, was spent in a senior level position with the Boundary Health Unit, where she championed community nursing programs.
Gwen was born in Saskatoon but took her nurses training at the Royal Columbian School of Nursing in New Westminster. She was one of the first nurses in the Intensive Care Nursery at VGH. In 1972 she moved to Kelowna General Hospital and subsequently to Kamloops, where she worked for 22 years at the Royal Inland Hospital. She completed her nursing degree at the University College of the Cariboo in 1992. Active in her profession, she served as RNABC Member-at-Large and Director .Gwen battled multiple sclerosis for the last ten years of her life, using her illness as a tool for influencing change in the ways that people with this disability were treated. Her interests included photography, camping, and skiing.