Mussallem, Helen Kathleen (1914-2012)

See Oral History files, Fonds 18, Series 3, Subseries 8

See Memorial Nursing Portrait Collection Fonds 18, Series 3, Subseries 7

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.

Contents of Biographical File

  1. Biographical Information Profile
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. J.G.H. Edwards, “A Tribute to Canada’s Most Distinguished Nurse,” January 1983,
  4. “Despite Wind and Rain,”, October 14, 2002.
  5. Jessica Rose, “Tradition May Be Queen’s Biggest Asset”, Ottawa Citizen, October 17, 2002, p. A17.
  6. “News: Canadians Meet Royalty at the Summit”, The Canadian Nurse, September 1972, p. 7.
  7. Coat of Arms and related informationJames E. Mattison, “Still Opening Doors”,
  8. James E. Mattison, “Still Opening Doors”, Reflections on Nursing Leadership, 29 (2),Cover + pp 10-15.
  9. Louise McKay, “She Has Big Job at VGH But Sneaks Back to Wards”, TheVancouver Sun, August 8, 1951, p. 20.
  10. Citation for Mussallem’s receipt of honorary doctorate, June 6, 1998.
  11. “Too Busy to Retire”
  12. 12.”Canada Awards Go to 35”, 1969.
  13. “CNF Scholars Celebrate Foundation’s 10th Year”, The Canadian Nurse, September 1972, p. 8.
  14. Helen Mussallem, “Remembering Yesterday”, RNABC News, May-June 1989, p.27.
  15. Invitation, with photographs, to Mussallem’s 90th birthday party, January 8, 2005.
  16. “Dr. Helen K. Mussallem Establishes Annual Fellowship”, Foundation Focus, Fall2003, p. 1.
  17. Notes and other information on taped interview
  18. Lifetime Achievement Award for Nursing Excellence, 2002.
  19. “Significant Archival Collection”, the Canadian Nurse, November 1993.
  20. Selection for Columbia University Nursing Hall of Fame
  21. UBC Spring Congregation for the Conferring of Degrees, May 27, 1994.
  22. Letter to Sheila Zerr, December 20, 1996.
  23. Brochure for the Helen K. Mussallem Library
  24. Invitation to tea, May 25, 1994.
  25. Interview information
  26. Correspondence with Sheila Zerr. – 1989-1996.
  27. Miscellaneous materials
  28. Biographical notes
  29. Three photographs
  30. Exhibit Materials.
  31. “Mussallem Honored for Heraldic Work”, The Canadian Nurse (February 2007), p.5.“Still Opening Doors,” Reflections on Nursing Leadership, 29, No. 2 (2003), pp. 10-15.
  32. CRNBC Memorial Book page for Helen Mussallem
  33. “Some of Dr. Mussallem’s Firsts”
  34. Obituaries: “A Decorated, Celebrated, Altruistic Activist,” The Globe and Mail, November 24, 2012, p. S15.
  35. Obituary by Ethel Warbinek, BC History of Nursing Society (Spring 2013), pp. 1, 3.
  36. Beth Fitzpatrick, “Remembering Helen Kathleen Mussallem”, BC History of Nursing Society (Spring 2013), pp. 4-5
  37. Helen K.Mussallem – Canada’s Most Decorated Nurse – January 7, 2015-November       9, 2012. VGH School of Nursing Alumnae Association Newsletter, Spring 2013, 14-15.
  38. Christmas card
  39. Biographical information
  40. Memorial Celebration
  41. Page from Memorial Nursing Portrait Collection