St. Joseph’s illustrious nursing history will be spotlighted at the Ontario legislature in Toronto as part of a program that provides organizations across the province with an opportunity to showcase their treasures and share their stories with a wide audience.
The Legislative Assembly welcomes thousands of visitors every year and provides exhibit space for museums, community associations, archives, and art galleries in the Legislative Building. There are several exhibit cases dedicated to the Community Exhibits Program in the west wing gallery and organizations can apply to share their stories and history.
A joint exhibit between St. Joseph’s and the Sisters of St. Joseph has been accepted and will be showcased from March 29 through early July. The theme is the nursing training school, titled “Nursing Nightingales Whose Lamps Burned Bright.”
Forty years after Florence Nightingale opened the first scientifically-based nursing school, the Sisters of St. Joseph opened St. Joseph’s Training School of Nursing in London. The Sisters recognized that a faith-based education, following the scientific model established by Florence Nightingale, would provide young women with both the skills and compassion they needed, explains Mary Kosta, Congregational Archivist for the Sisters of St. Joseph. The challenges of providing exceptional nursing education were met with fortitude by the religious community, and without government support, the nursing school opened in 1901. Until 1970, the nursing graduates kept Florence Nightingale’s lamp burning bright.
The joint exhibit, which will feature artifacts and photos, will trace the early history of nursing education in London, with a focus on two nursing students in the years preceding the two World Wars – Jean Pye and Bernice Farr.
The St. Joseph's Training School of Nursing was eventually renamed the St. Joseph’s Regional School of Nursing. In 1970, it became part of the Fanshawe College Nursing Program, and was known as the St. Joseph’s Campus. By 1977, the St. Joseph’s Campus closed, ending 75 years of faith-based nursing education.
“We are thrilled to share the remarkable history of nursing education at St. Joseph’s and in London with the many visitors to Ontario’s legislature,” says Noelle Tangredi, a member of the St. Joseph’s Historical Committee which maintains the St. Joseph’s Hospital and Nursing School Artifact Collection and the heritage exhibit space at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “It is a history of which we are most proud and to celebrate it broadly in the meeting place of the province’s government is very meaningful.”
The Legislative Building is open from 8 am to 6:00 pm, Monday to Friday; and seven days a week during the summer months (Victoria Day to Labour Day, weekends and holidays from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm).
Exhibits in the Legislative Building are available for viewing by joining a guided tour, which run every hour Monday to Friday (excluding holidays), from 9 am to 5 pm. Starting May 19 and through the summer, tours are also available on the weekends.
The joint exhibit will move to the heritage corner of St. Joseph’s Hospital sometime in the summer. Watch for details and be sure to visit.
Photos courtesey of: Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Archives