March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation. Blog prompt from Lisa Alzo.
My mother Mary Stewart was one of my first female ancestors to work outside of the home. She grew up on a farm by Albright, Alberta, and the closest town was Beaverlodge. She decided nursing would be the career for her, the closest training school was the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton which was 540 km away. This was not a small distance for someone who had experienced a very small school and hadn’t done much traveling. I asked her about it, this is what she told me
I trained for three years at the Misericordia School of Nursing. We all lived in residence which was right beside the hospital. Across the alley directly behind us was the interns residence and beside that residence was the Crèche, where unwed mothers were lived and were cared for. Many of these girls were very young. After their deliveries, some of the girls gave up their babies for adoption.
Sister St, Delphina was in charge of the student nurses. I think she was a very smart nice person, but we had our regulations. During our first year we had to be in residence by 9:30 every night.
We were allowed a few 10:30 pm and something like four 12:30 passes each month, the number of passes increased slightly each year as we got older.
After three years, we wrote our government exams and I went with my roommate Collette to work at the Blairmore hospital in the Crows Nest Pass in southern Alberta. It took what seemed a long time before our marks from our exams reached and for us to find out that we had both passed .
We returned to Edmonton in September (I think) for our graduation ceremonies. My mother came out to Edmonton to attend. It was all so impressive to me. The graduation ceremony was at the McDonald Hotel.
A few years ago while I was in Edmonton my friend and classmate, Terri Ellis and I went there to have lunch and catch up. It is a very grand place.
I do know that my mom went on to nurse in Detroit, Michigan after she was married. Later the family moved back to Montreal (1971) and she taught at the preschool I attended.
In Rosemere Quebec, I worked with Binny Goldman at the Rosemere Cooperative Nursery School Which I think she started and was very sought after place for people to enroll their preschoolers. I initiated a little gym program for the children which seemed to go over quite well. I believe I worked there for three years before moving out to Alberta.
In 1981, we moved back to Alberta, very close to the place where my mom had grown up. Mom had to go back to school, redoing some courses so she could again nurse in Alberta. She returned to nursing as a VON and later worked at the Hythe Hospital, retiring a few years ago.