Celebrating 100 years at the UBC School of Nursing

Under the gorgeous sunny sky the long awaited event of the Ethel Johns’ plaque being unveiled in the garden adjacent to the UBC hospital brought to an end the long 12 years  process of her being recognized as a Person of Interest by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Ethel Johns was the first Director of the UBC School of Nursing and so fitting that the unveiling would be the first event of the UBC School of Nursing’s events celebrating it’s 100 years.   Elizabeth Saewyc, the present Director of Nursing performed the unveiling of the plaque.  For more information you can scroll down to page 11 of this blog to read more, as well, there will be more photos & information in the upcoming newsletter.


NEW WEBSITE for the Victoria General Hospital in HALIFAX Nova Scotia

Former BCHNS member Gloria Stephens, who now resides in Nova Scotia, announced the Victoria General Hospital School of Nursing Alumni’s brand- new website: www.halifaxvghnursesalumni.ca.

Of interest is an impressive richly illustrated account of the history of the Victoria General Hospital and the role of nursing within its walls over the years. The story of the Halifax Explosion (1917) is also found on the website.

The school of nursing graduated approximately 5000 nurses from 1892-1995 when the school closed.

The VGH School of Nursing Archives is dedicated to the preservation of the history of nursing. Their mandate is “to acquire and preserve memorabilia pertaining to the Victoria General Hospital, the School of Nursing and its graduates”.

The Alumni remains vibrant with plans to celebrate 100 years in 20/20 with a three- day event.

The Forgotten Flu


In 1918 the Spanish Flu swept around the globe and Nanaimo was not immune. Local business, industries and schools closed and an emergency hospital opened. To coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Spanish Flu Epidemic, Vancouver Island University history students, supervised by Katharine Rollwagen, have developed an exhibit in the Community Gallery in the Nanaimo Museum.that looks at how the Spanish Flu affected Nanaimo. The exhibit closes on February 15th.

(From the BCHF Buzz, January 2019)

Remembering DR. HELEN NISKALA 1929-2018

We are saddened to hear of the passing of Helen Niskala, one of the founding members of the BC History of Nursing Society, and a supporter of the group for many years. A tribute to Helen can be found on the UBC School of Nursing website at:
At Helen’s request, there will not be a service. Her ashes will be taken home to Ontario, where they will be placed in with those of her mother in South Porcupine. At that time, there will be a small family gathering to say farewell.


Dr. Susan Armstrong-Reid

Associate member DR. SUSAN ARMSTRONG-REID received the 2018 Lavinia M. Dock award for her recent book China Gadabouts: New Frontiers of Humanitarian Nursing, 1941-51. The book, published by UBC Press, examines previously unexplored and undervalued roles of Western and Chinese nurses in the famous China Convoy’s humanitarian efforts from 1941 to 1951.
The American Association for the History of Nursing gives the Dock award to the author of a book noted for its outstanding research and writing. Susan writes “it was exciting to win the award. It would be lovely to share the news with BC colleagues. Your organization and Glennis Zilm have been extremely supportive of my work.”
For more information about the book, see https://www.ubcpress.ca/china-gadabouts.


Jennifer Stephens
Lydia Wytenbroek PhD



Member LYDIA WYTENBROEK successfully defended her doctoral dissertation for a PhD in the Graduate Program in History at York University in September. Her dissertation title is “American Mission Nurses in Iran, 1907-1947: Faith, Gender and Profession.” Lydia writes “I am very grateful for BCHNS support of my work over the years. I am currently the Rice Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellow in Nursing and Health Care History at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I am working on transforming my dissertation into a book!”
For more information about Lydia’s dissertation and her current challenges, check out the Fall Issue of the BC History of Nursing Society Newsletter, page 10.



Jennifer Stephens PhD
Dr. Sally Thorne,, Jennifer Stephens & her children

Member JENNIFER STEPHENS received her PhD from UBC in May 2018. Her dissertation titled “Exploring issues of identity for Adult Hematology Patients” won the best dissertation award. She received the 2018 Kristine Griffith Memorial Graduate Scholarship in Nursing for Outstanding Dissertation. Dr. Sally Thorne was her advisor.
Jennifer is a member of the BCHNS website committee and manages our Facebook and Twitter accounts. She is also on the Archives Committee and responsible for oral histories.


The British Columbia Historical Federation BUZZ provides timely information and is a forum for member societies to publicize events and activities. The following request appeared in the November 2018 issue.
Search underway for public nursing monuments
The BC History of Nursing Society invites you to join them as they search for public monuments and memorials throughout British Columbia that honour nurses. Does your community have any buildings, monuments, memorials, stained glass windows or sculptures that honour nurses?

The society wants to enhance the online exhibits/nursing presentations section on its website that currently features Vancouver Monuments (completed 1996). Please take time to review this presentation and see the memorials currently recorded.
If you know of any monuments throughout BC that honour nurses, please contact the society through their website: bcnursinghistory.ca

UBC 2018 BSN Orientation

Professor Cheryl Segaric, Cheryl Entwistle (RJH 1908 walking out costume) & Sheila Zerr, Jeanne Manse costume

On August 30, 2018, the UBC School of Nursing welcomed approximately 120 incoming BSN students. The History of Nursing Group has been invited to be part of the orientation program, first by Glennis Zilm, and recently by Cheryl Entwistle and Sheila Zerr. The History Group members dress in costume to present the group’s objectives and programs and encourage the students to become interested and involved with the history of nursing.  This year two students became members following the presentation. The photo pictures Dr. Cheryl Segaric, orientation coodinator, Cheryl Entwishtle in 1908 Walking Out Nursing Costume and Sheila Zerr in Jeanne Manse Costume

Nurse to Remember

Little has been known of Canadian War hero, Mona Parson, a nurse trained in US, but from Nova Scotia. We all should remember her this Remembrance Day.  Click on the link below to watch the youtube video that tells her story.

Website Award Presentation

Ron Hyde, from the BC Historical Federation presented Anita Petersen and Lenore Radom with their BC Best Website Award Sunday, Sept 16th at our TEA & TALES event.  The Award consisted of a certificate each and $250.00 to BCHNS.  Lenore then presented Anita Petersen, our amazing Webmaster with a $250.00 cheque for her creating of the website and her strong support of the website Committee, Beth Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Stephens & Lenore Radom. They are a team which consistently strives to be a “work in progress”.

We wish to sincerely thank Nan Martin for nominating us to the BCHF and Francis Mansbridge, our part time Archivist,  for his very supporting letter.

Watch for video link coming soon