School of Nursing
We were taught the value and sacredness of life, at every stage, regardless of race, gender, colour or creed. We served everybody… It was just a part of who we were at every minute.
– Elda Barva (1970 graduate of St. Michael’s School of Nursing)
To meet the growing demand for nurses, the Sisters of St. Martha applied to the University of Alberta to open a new school of nursing, which was approved in November 1950. Soon after, the construction of a nurses’ residence was in motion. While the building was not completed until 1954, the first class of student nurses began on January 5, 1953, graduating in 1956.
St. Michael’s School of Nursing prepared its students through a three-year in-class and practical training program. They also taught the importance of attention to detail, such as how to properly make a bed or dress appropriately. By the third year, nurses had completed almost all of their schooling across different departments. They had also formed a close bond with each other through their time living in residence and sharing study sessions, dances and games.
In 1973, nursing education was transferred to Lethbridge College and St. Michael’s School of Nursing closed its doors, graduating its last class on June 3, 1973. In total, more than 500 nurses were trained at the facility over its twenty-year operation.
The temporary exhibit St. Michael’s: 90 Years of Compassionate Care is on display at the Galt Museum & Archives until September 29.