Dorothy Ladner graduated from VGH in 1942 and with a Bachelor of Applied Science in nursing from UBC in 1944. After serving in WW II as a medical nurse in the RCAF, she joined the BC Public Health Service. She received a Masters’ in Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh in 1965 and then returned to administrative positions, becoming stationed in Prince George as supervisor in the Northern Interior Unit.
Keenly interested in the welfare of children, she became Executive Director of the Variety Club’s Children’s Treatment Centre in Surrey, but serious head injuries in 1987 from a car accident necessitated her continued care for the remainder of her life. After her death, her sister Edna Ladner endowed the UBC Faculty of Medicine with a memorial fellowship in her name for a graduate student doing research on the treatment of traumatic brain injury.
From 2003 to 2013 Marjorie Laisnes worked as a home care nurse in Arviat (Eskimo Point), which gave her unique insights into the Inuit culture. She recounts the rigours of life in the north, but also the immense personal satisfaction she drew from her work. “The experience taught me patience, to slow down and enjoy the moment, the sunset, the kid’s games. I have learned to be less of a consumer”.
Anna Lam was likely the first Chinese nurse registered in BC. She was the daughter of the Fong-Dickmans, leaders of the Chinese community, and a talented pianist who retained a keen interest in music throughout her life. Her application for nurse training was rejected by four area hospitals; she was finally accepted by King’s Daughters Hospital in Duncan. She graduated in 1929, but her Chinese background made finding employment difficult. In the 1930s she was a pianist for the YWCA aerobics classes, and later took up painting. She was also an enthusiastic fan of the BC Lions.
While she and her family experienced great discrimination in her early life, her family became prominent among the social elite of British Columbia. Her home was a center for dinner parties and musical evenings.
After graduating from the VGH School of Nursing in 1931 and with a BASc(N) from UBC in 1931. Geraldine worked as a public health nurse in Chilliwack. She recalls that “You were on your own and you had to make decisions.” In 1934 she was promoted to supervisor at the Cowichan Health Center on Vancouver Island, and in 1936 joined the newly formed Metropolitan Health Committee in Vancouver. She took a Masters’ of Arts at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, and taught at UBC from 1939 to 1943.
She left nursing in 1943, perhaps to get married, but returned to nursing in 1964 as a public health nurse in Abbotsford and later Haney. She worked extensively with former residents of Riverview (psychiatric) Hospital, helping them to lead more productive and fulfilling lives.
Joan graduated from VGH in 1957 and from UBC with a BSN in 1958. On completion of nursing at UBC, she commenced work at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. Her subsequent postings include the Central Vancouver Island Health Unit, Dawson Creek, Squamish, the Boundary Health Unit, South Okanagan Health Unit and Penticton. Highlights of her career include developing a new prenatal program for BC Public Health nurses, making a movie of birth and breast feeding, and giving each nurse a special area to develop as she saw the need.
Geraldine was born in Thunder Bay, where she graduated from McKellar General Hospital School of Nursing. She was science instructor at this school for two years, then later at the Kamloops RIH School of Nursing, becoming Director of Nursing Education from 1960 to 1974. She became Planning Director in 1975, and worked in administration until her retirement in 1991.
Geraldine was President of RNABC from 1973-1975, and known as an exemplary nursing educator, administrator, and practitioner who made many contributions to the development of nursing in the province. Her numerous awards included the Woman of the Year Award from Kamloops and a commemorative medal from the Queen, both in 1977.
Hilda graduated From St. Paul’s in 1945. She was assigned to the St. Paul’s premature nursery ward, and was one of the first nurses from St. Paul’s to accompany airlift rescues by the RCAF in remote areas of BC. She recalls the work, though often hindered by primitive conditions, as immensely satisfying.
Jessie graduated from VGH in 1941, and later received a BSc from Simmons College in Boston. In 1945 she went as to Mexico a missionary nurse, where she assisted in the opening and operations of a school for Mexican women to be trained as nurses. She spent seventeen years there, often travelling by burro to assist poor Mexican women in giving birth. She also spent two years in Haiti, but most of her latter life was spent nursing in Vancouver. She travelled extensively and contributed to many charitable organizations.
Eleanor Lawson is known as a pioneer of health education in BC, graduating from the Royal Jubilee Hospital in 1946. After a number of positions, mostly in BC, she commenced work at Lions Gate Hospital in 1961, became Director of Education Services until her retirement in 1988. In 1966 she spearheaded the first centralized hospital education department in BC, and advocated the importance of learning and training.
Born in England, Nancy arrived in Canada at the age of fourteen months. After graduating in nursing from VGH in 1932, she took further training in England in midwifery and pediatric care. During WW II she joined the South African Military Nursing Service, serving in both South Africa and Italy.
In 1946 she received a diploma in Public Health and worked in that field for the rest of her career. She also received a Bachelor of Nursing from McGill in 1960 and held a number of supervisory public health positions, the last being Director of Nursing for Greater Victoria. She loved to travel, and was an active volunteer.
Edith Lees received her RN from Vegreville General Hospital in Alberta, a BSc from Incarnate Word College in Texas, and an MSc from Russell Sage College in New York. During and after World War II she served as a military nurse; from 1957 to 1977 she was instructor, supervisor, chief nurse, and educational co-ordinator for the US Army Corps. Along with the editing and publication of 3 books on The Military Nurses of Canada, she regards her military service as the highlight of her nursing career.
Chris received his Nursing Diploma from Vancouver City College in 1972, his Bachelor of Nursing from Dalhousie in 1979, and his Masters’ of Education from UBC in 1984. He has worked extensively with First Nations people, planning, implementing and evaluating a broad range of community health services. Much of this work has been on the West Coast, but he has also provided planning, coordination, and facilitation of formal nursing clinical education and professional development for nurses practicing in Alberta.
Mary Lewis graduated from the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria in 1950, and worked there until 1976 as general duty and then head nurse in the Emergency Dept. A highlight of her career was working as a hostess for the first annual emergency care seminar for nurses. She has been an active member of the alumnae since graduation, and has also volunteered with the Meals on Wheels program.
Clara was born in Revelstoke BC, and in 1939, the third student of Chinese origin to enter VGH; she graduated in 1941, at the top of her class and came first in the provincial RN examinations. Her older sister graduated from the Royal Columbian Hospital School of Nursing and was the first Chinese nurse to graduate from a BC School of Nursing. Clara became supervisor of the Private Ward Pavilion at VGH, and sat on the committee planning Centennial Pavilion. She was put in charge of Medical-Surgical and Emergency nursing and was instrumental in opening the Intensive Care and Coronary units, the first in BC.
Clara was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Richmond Lions Manor, Governor of BC Addiction Research & Rehabilitation Association and member of the Board of RNABC foundation. She was recognized for her outstanding contributions to the Chinese Benevolent Association. Her many awards have included the Queen’s 25th Anniversary Commemorative Medal, the Order of Canada and the Governor General’s Medal. She loved dancing and playing mahjong.
Dorothy Logan was born in New Brunswick, but her family moved to Vancouver, where Dorothy enrolled in the Nursing Program at UBC, graduating from VGH in 1949 and from UBC in 1950. Subsequently, she returned to teach at St. John General Hospital in New Brunswick. In 1956 she married Gordon Logan, and returned to Vancouver to teach at Vancouver General Hospital. She became the Director of Nursing in 1973, a position she held until her retirement in 1986.
Dorothy was active on many committees, including those related to alumnae and scholarship matters. Her awards include a Life Membership in the VGH School of Nursing Alumnae Association, an Honorary Member of the RNABC, and the UBC Nursing Division Award of Distinction. Her integrity and compassion were widely admired; she served as a mentor and role model for many.
Marjory graduated from St Paul’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1926 and married in 1929. She resumed her nursing career in 1948, when the Victorian Order of Nurses was first organized in Richmond. Marjorie started making rounds for the VON in the community and worked either full or part time until her retirement in 1964. She recalls experiences she had in this work from then until 1964 as “the best and happiest in my life”.
Lillian Lum graduated from VGH in 1939 and ran the Venereal Disease Clinic at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria from 1941 to 1965. She took Public Health Nursing at UBC in 1966 and went on to work at the Saanich Health Department until her retirement in 1980. She was active in the Girl Guide and Boy Scout movements and in many sports. She also travelled extensively, both locally and internationally.
Newspaper obituary from The Province
Also known as “North” (last name).
Margaret was born in Toronto and raised on a ranch in the East Kootenays. She attended the VGH School of Nursing, from which she graduated in 1933. After two years spent working in Port Alice, she joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1941 and nursed in military hospitals in England, North Africa and Italy. She was one of the first nurses to administer penicillin, which she recalls as ”brown coloured and it smelled a bit like horse manure”.
After the war she worked at the Vancouver Military Hospital, and in Montreal and Hawaii. She lived briefly in Wells, where she met her husband, and in Quesnel, before they bought a home in Ladner in 1957. With her husband she established and operated three long-term care nursing homes in the Lower Mainland. After her husband died, she moved to White Rock, where she married Mainwaring, who died six months later. In her retirement she curled, lawn bowled, attended dinner dances and enjoyed the occasional glass of sherry. She is a loyal member of the VGH SON Alumnae and attended annual lunches until 2014. She continues to live in her apartment with assistance.
Following Ethel Johns and Mabel Gray, Evelyn Mallory was the third director of UBC’s School of Nursing. She graduated from Winnipeg General in 1925, and obtained a degree in science in 1930, later followed by a Master of Arts degree in 1950. She became Registrar and Educational Advisor to Schools of Nursing for RNABC in 1941, and in 1943 was offered the position of associate professor and head of the nursing department at UBC, a position she held until her retirement in 1967.
Under her direction UBC separated from the Vancouver General Hospital in 1958 to become an independent school. In 1968 she was successful in implementing a Masters’ degree in nursing. She wrote the first extensive history of the UBC School of Nursing.
Evelyn chaired a number of committees, on which she became known for her intelligence and extensive knowledge of nursing. She served as both second and first vice-president of CNA, and as president of RNABC. After her retirement she moved to Vernon to be near her family. The Harriet Evelyn Mallory Memorial Scholarship was established in recognition of her remarkable contribution to nursing.
Agnes Wallace was born and grew up in Scotland, where she received her training at Glasgow Royal Infirmary School of Nursing from 1955 to 1958. She also took a six-month course in midwifery. She immigrated to Canada where she was registered in Ontario in 1961 and in BC in 1969.
Balancing short term positions in gerontological nursing, while raising her three children, Nan later became a Head Nurse at Shaughnessy’s Brock Fahrni Pavilion from 1982 to 1986. She was also Head Nurse at the Lions Gate Hospital (Evergreen House–Extended Care) from 1987 to 1997. She regarded helping residents and family adjusting to extended care as a highlight of her career, and spent much of her time advocating for improved staffing levels. Nan was actively involved in the RNABC and CNA Gerontological Professional Practice Groups and received the RNABC Award of Excellence in Nursing Practice.
Jean Matheson epitomizes the dedicated career nurse of the early twentieth century, especially with her work caring for tuberculosis patients. She graduated from Winnipeg General Hospital in 1899. From 1901 to 1906 she was Matron of the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, and in 1907 became the first matron of the new tuberculosis Sanatorium at Tranquille, which she helped make one of the premier provincial tuberculosis hospitals in Canada.
She signed on as a Nursing Sister during World War I with the No. 5 Canadian General Hospital at Salonika (Greece), and later England. For her wartime service she received the Mons Medal, the Victory Medal, the Royal Red Cross and the King George Jubilee Medal. She became Matron of Shaughnessy Military Hospital after the war; many of the returning veterans suffered from tuberculosis and respiratory disorders related to gas warfare. She worked there until her retirement in 1938.
In 1946 a new building at Shaughnessy, built to house veterans returning from WW II with tuberculosis, was named the Jean Matheson Pavilion in her honour.
Kathryn Matusiak’s deeply felt Christian beliefs infuse her nursing. After receiving her BSN from Queens University in 1976, she worked as a staff nurse at Greenland Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand and Children’s Hospital in Ottawa. From 1979 to 1996 she worked as a Community Health Nurse in prevention programs. She has found that Public Health Nursing changed from the very wide general prevention focus in the 1980s to a specialized acute care focus.
She took a Parish Nursing Diploma from Trinity Western in 2000, and Lay Volunteer Chaplain Training in 2002. From 2000 she has been the parish nurse for the First United Church, in White Rock BC, responsible for pastoral care, including hospital and home visiting, coordinating the prayer tree and the Seniors Tea, and taking part in funerals with support for family members. She finds that her training and work has deepened her “understanding of God’s presence in the healing process of body, mind and spirit”.
Katharyn May received her BSN from Duke University, and her MS and DNSc from the University of California, San Francisco. Her varied career includes teaching at the University of California from 1979 to 1987 and Vanderbilt University in Nashville from 1987 to 1994. She was Director of the School of Nursing at UBC from 1994-2000. She left to take the position of Dean of the School of Nursing at Madison, Wisconsin, from which she retired in 2015.
Her publications include Maternal and Neonatal Nursing, and two editions of Comprehensive Maternity Nursing. She has also published numerous articles and chapters in books, as well as presenting papers at conferences. Much of her research relates to issues surrounding childbirth.
After her training at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, Jessie Lee joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and nursed in England. She regarded this work as “the greatest privilege for me”. “The friendships formed a camaraderie over the years [that] has enriched my life greatly”.
While she took a year’s training in obstetrical nursing at McGill after World War II, marriage and living far from any hospitals prevented her from working as a nurse. She has volunteered with hospital auxiliaries in Abbotsford and the Hospice Society, and also visited in hospitals and care homes.
Naomi Allsebrook grew up in the West Kootenays and completed nursing at VGH (1950) and her BScN at UBC (1951). From 1951 to 1953 she was Head Nurse at the TB Willow Chest Centre. After her marriage she moved frequently, and did little nursing. She worked extensively with Girl Guides, and became increasingly involved with East Kootenay local history. From 1968 to 1974 she worked to build and organize the Golden Museum, becoming curator there from 1974 to 1983.
Naomi brought to light nursing history from outside the Lower Mainland and Capital District. She published two books of local history, and was winner of the British Columbia Heritage Award in 1999. She was an active volunteer with Fort Steele, and from 2003 she has been Secretary of the Fort Steele Cemetery Society. In 2010 she was awarded an honorary life membership in the BC History of Nursing Society.
Maria Sorenson was born in Hakkebo, Norway; hard times led her family to immigrate to Prince Rupert so her father could continue life as a fisherman. She completed nursing at VGH in 1944 where she went to work on the children’s ward. Working as superintendent of TB control at Willow Chest led her in 1949 to move to the West Coast Sanatorium in Newfoundland where she became superintendent of nurses.
She returned to Vancouver to work at the children’s hospital and get married, but retired from nursing in the late 1950s. In 1961 she and her husband moved to Sechelt, where her active community volunteer involvement earned her the Good Citizen of Sechelt award in 1978. She died of cancer in 2003.
Biographical information. Author unidentified.
Kari Moore grew up on a farm southwest of Edmonton. She took her nursing training at the University of Alberta Hospital, and years later, in 1981, received her BA from SFU. She worked at a number of different hospitals, mostly in British Columbia, with time out to raise a family. She states that she especially enjoyed work in the OR.
Among her many other hats were terms as Surrey Councillor and President of the Surrey Arts Society. In her later life she reconnected with her Ukrainian roots, and became an active fundraiser and ardent advocate on Ukrainian issues, especially the internment of Ukrainians as enemy aliens during WW I. In 2004 she was awarded the Taras Shevchenko medal by the national Canadian Ukrainian Congress. A poem of hers commemorating the great famine in the Ukraine imposed by Stalin was placed on a plaque on a cairn at the National Memorial Park in Dauphin, Manitoba.
Ruth Morrison was a newspaper reporter in Halifax before entering the Toronto General Hospital; School of Nursing. After a number of jobs in Saskatchewan and the Maritimes, she took her BSN and MPH in nursing at the University of Minnesota. In her subsequent position at UBC, she played a major role in promoting public health nursing in BC by introducing public health nursing into each year of the baccalaureate program. This helped meet the need for more qualified public health nurses, especially in the remoter regions of the province.
Ruth was energetically active on both national and provincial health committees. She was president of the Canadian Association of University Schools of Nursing in the 1950s, and a member of the World Health Organization’s Expert Panel on Nursing in 1951.
Although born on Salt Spring Island BC, in 1942, Rose and her family were interned as Japanese nationals during World War II, and removed to New Denver in BC’s West Kootenays and later to Alberta . In 1954, the family returned to Salt Spring where they faced continuing racism. However, the family survived and established a successful market business, growing vegetables and berries. Rose graduated from VGH School of Nursing in 1959 and obtained a BSN from UBC and Masters’ of Science degrees from McGill University and Boston University. She had a long career at the UBC School of Nursing as an Associate Professor, where she was a highly respected and a successful career as Vice President of Nursing at UBC Health Sciences Centre. In 1994, she became RNABC’s first Consumer Relations Representative. On retirement, Rose returned to Salt Spring.
In 2006 fire destroyed their home, with the loss of many irreplaceable photographs and memorabilia. In 2009 they donated a half acre of their land on Salt Spring Island, valued at $1.2 million, to build the 27-unit Murakami Gardens, Salt Springs’ first affordable housing project. Shortly after, she and her brother had the privilege of meeting with Japan’s Emperor Akhito and Empress Michiko during their historic visit to BC.
Kathy Murphy was born in Trail BC and graduated from VGH in 1965 and received a Bachelor of Nursing from McGill in 1968. After graduating from VGH, she worked there in Surgical Nursing and in 1967 at the Montreal General Hospital. She took a number of courses at UBC and received a Master of Health Sciences from McMaster University in 1978. Kathy worked at St. Paul’s as a surgical instructor and clinical coordinator, and at Richmond General from 1979-1989, as Director of Nursing. She was also a lobbyist for RNABC on the Royal Commission on Health Care in 1990. Kathy married Gordon Murphy in 1982 and was widowed in 1995.
Her many professional and community involvements include the RNABC Chapter and Board, President of the Nurse Administrators’ Association of BC, Board member and Capital Campaign Chair for the RNFBC, VGH School of Nursing Alumnae Association, University Women’s Club of Vancouver, and St. Andrews Wesley United Church. In 1990 she received the RNABC Award of Excellence in Nurse Administration.
Britain’s Royal College of Nursing cited Dr. Mussallem as “Canada’s most distinguished nurse in her time and generation”. She was born to a pioneer family in Prince Rupert and graduated from VGH School of Nursing in 1937. Educated at McGill University and Columbia, she was the first Canadian nurse to earn a doctoral degree in nursing education. From 1962 to 1981 she was executive director of the Canadian Nurses Association. Among her many awards are honorary doctorates from six Canadian universities and appointment as a Companion of the Order of Canada.
During World War II Mussallem served with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. After the war she taught and directed the nursing program at the Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing and directed the Pilot Project for Evaluation of Schools of Nursing in Canada which led to major reforms in nursing education. Some of her major publications were crucial in influencing the transfer of nursing education to the mainstream of general post-secondary education.
She was active on over thirty international assignments and missions to improve nursing in third world countries, and served as Board or Committee member or adviser to many national and international organizations. She was a member of the Economic Council of Canada from 1971 to 1980.
Photograph shows Dr. Mussallem (right) on her 90th birthday with Dr. Sally Thorne.