St. Michael’s and the Sisters of St. Martha

A painting of St. Michael that was installed in the St. Michael’s Hospital

A painting of St. Michael that was installed in the St. Michael’s Hospital

The contribution of the Sisters of St. Martha to medical services in Lethbridge will always be valued and never forgotten. Their presence in Lethbridge will be engraved in the history of Lethbridge forever.

– Dr. Raymond Kimberley

The Sisters of St. Martha began in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in 1900 as a congregation specializing in nursing, teaching and social work. They were among many orders of religious women that have played an important role as health care providers in Canada.

In 1928, Mother M. Ignatius Floyd and Mother Faustina MacArthur were invited to Lethbridge by Bishop J. T. Kidd of Calgary to take over a small private hospital run by Marie Van Haarlem, who was set to retire. The following year, the Sisters of St. Martha took over the Van Haarlem as their first hospital outside of Antigonish. They turned the thirty-five-bed institution into St. Michael’s General Hospital and named it after the first board chair, Father Michael Murphy.

For the next ninety years, the Sisters were involved in all aspects of nursing at St. Michael’s from teaching to administration to patient care. They were respected for their discipline and compassion. While the Sisters stepped back from hospital administration in 1985 and are returning to Antigonish in 2019, they leave a strong legacy of service, gentle hospitality and dedication to medicine in Lethbridge.

The temporary exhibit St. Michael’s: 90 Years of Compassionate Care is on display at the Galt Museum & Archives until September 29.