Johns, Ethel (1879-1968)

See also the Ethel Johns fonds in the UBC Archives

See Margaret Street, Watch-Fires on the Mountains:  The Life and Writings of  Ethel Johns (in archives library)

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.

Contents of Biographical File

  1. Writings by Ethel Johns
    1. “A Graduating Climb”, The Canadian Alpine Journal (1910), 11 (2), 158- Address to Mass Meeting.” (1919)
    2. “The University in Relation to Nursing Education,” Rpt. From The Modern Hospital (1920), 15 (2), 1-5.
    3. “Twenty Years On,” Pupil Nurses Annual, VGH, 1922, pp. 14-15.
    4. “An Honourable Tradition,” Pupil Nurses’ Annual, 1923, pp. 11-14.
    5. “The Nurse Seeks the University,” The Canadian Nurse, September 1948, (9), 720-724.
    6. “…Off Duty…”, In Just Plain Nursing, ed. Ethel Johns. (1933)
    7. “Address to Mass Meeting.”(1919)
  2. E. Incledon Jones, “To the Members of the Graduating Class of 1921.”
  3. “Miss Ethel Johns”, The Canadian Nurse (1929), p. 674.
  4. Rae Chittick, “In Appreciation of Ethel Johns”. Ca. 1969.
  5. Margaret Street, “Presentation of the Gift of the Late Miss Ethel Johns to the Charles Woodward Memorial Library, January 12, 1969.
  6. Rev. of Watch Fires on the Mountains: The Life and Writings of Ethel Johns, The Canadian Nurse, March 1974, pp. 44, 46.
  7. Lissa Cowan, “No Handmaiden of Medicine,” Trek, Summer 2009, pp. 25-28.
  8. “Government of Canada Celebrates the Historical Significance of Ethel Johns”
  9. Nomination to CNA Memorial Book.
  10. From “Ethel Johns: Nursing Leader,” by Beverly Deipert (?), February 23, 1998.
  11. Margaret Street. “Ethel Johns fonds” (UBC 1969)
  12. Esther Paulson, “Memories of Ethel Johns.” (1999)
  13. Sonja Grypma, “Profile of a Leader: Unearthing Ethel Johns’ ‘Buried’ Commitment to Racial Equality, 1925,” Nursing Leadership, (2003) 16, (4), 39-47.
  14. “Nursing Pioneer Honoured,” The Canadian Nurse, September 2009, 105 (7), 8.
  15. Glennis Zilm, “Pins and Medals of Ethel Johns”, BC History of Nursing Society, (Spring 2013), p 8.
  16. Nomination to CNA Memorial Book.
  17. Kate Jaimet, “We Want to Tell Their Stories”, Ottawa Citizen, January 11, 2009,p.A4
  18. “UBC’s first nursing school director celebrated as a person of National Historic Significance”
  19. “Ethel Johns Historic Plaque Unveiled,” February 13, 2015
  20. Three photographs
  21. Photographs on DC from Ethel Johns Ceremony at Cecil Green Park House February 10,2015. Credit Don Erhardt.