Monuments and Commemorations Honouring Nurses In British Columbia
Public monuments honouring nurses exist in various cities, including a famous statue of Florence Nightingale in central London and a well-known monument to Jeanne Mance in the center of Montreal.
A request for funds to restore a stained-glass window honouring World War I Nursing Sisters in Vancouver’s Canadian Memorial Church led Nina Rumen of the B.C. History of Nursing Group to start a project, in mid-1991, to begin to identify and document nursing memorials in Vancouver. By May 1992, she had identified and photographed eight public memorials to nurses – three stained glass windows, three statues, a frieze, and a hospital building. Nina’s photographs, originally compiled into a booklet album by Glennis Zilm, showed these eight memorials. The monuments represent nursing sisters esteemed by the public or by individuals who knew and admired the nursing profession.
In 1996, Nina Rumen was joined in the project by E. Brenda Flynn and the two continued to identify and document other monuments. A poster version of the monuments was made by Brenda to show at the International Conference on Nursing History held in Vancouver June 12-15, 1997.
Another version of the album was prepared later by Glennis Zilm at the request of Lt. Col. (Retired) Harriet (“Hallie”) Sloan, Honourary Chair of the Nursing Sisters’ Association of Canada, for a project involving the history of Nursing Sisters in Canada. This smaller version of the album merely showed the monuments that were specifically dedicated to the Nursing Sisters.
Copies of these early booklets can be found in the BC History of Nursing Society archives.
During the next decade the BC History of Nursing Society expanded its website and Sheila Zerr and her grandson Patrick created a digital version of the monument booklets for an online exhibit. More photographs and information about other monuments located in the Vancouver area was added by Beth Fitzpatrick and Helen Shore.
The BC History of Nursing Society continues to seek out and identify other public “images of nursing” across the entire province. In 2020 when the Monuments to Nurses web document was reviewed it was apparent that many “commemorations” such as schools, street names and mountains honoured nurses and the web document was expanded to include these tributes.
For further information please contact Margaret Scaia through contact us on this website.