100 Years of Inspiration
Nurses in Kingston have been making a difference in the world since the beginning of the 1900’s.
Charlotte Tilstra, Milton District High School
Just over 100 years ago the Ann Baillie building in Kingston was home to some of the finest women in Kingston history. It was the residence for nurses going through schooling and apprenticeship jobs at Kingston General Hospital.
Today the Ann Baillie Building no longer holds resident nurses, but instead a museum of them and the history and developments in health care in Kingston. It takes visitors through the strange solutions and contraptions to fix or help medical problems. It’s amazing how much was done with such limited technology.
Rooms where nurses used to reside are transformed to show an x-ray machine that removes pimples, potions to cure illness, and one room that is a replica of what the nurses rooms looked like. A comment book lies within this room where visitors to the museum can write a personal story of how nurses have changed their lives. “They help me get my broken arm away” Aaron, a younger visitor, wrote in the book and there and hundreds of other compelling and inspiring stories left behind by the guests of the museum or how nurses have made a difference.
Sylvia Burkinshaw KGH Director of Nursing to Class of 1968 says, “We are concerned with human beings – with individuals, and with the total care, physical, mental, spiritual care of those individuals for whom we are responsible.” Ever since the founding of the Ann Baillie Building nurses have been the life of the hospital as they cleaned, supervised and attending to the patients. Each of them worked twelve hour shifts for seven days a week which left little free time.
In what free time they did have these ladies enjoyed tons of activities like swimming, skating, team sports, picnics, singing and dances. In fact, at dances in the 1930’s men were not allowed to attend so women would borrow pyjamas from the hospital and dress up to create “men” to dance with. All these women were very high spirited and made homes and families in Kingston. Nothing could keep them down, not even the rules.
Since these women were responsible for looking after the patients, especially at night, the rules were strict. A curfew was set and certain expectations were set in place with dismissal as the ultimate threat. Still these clever nurses found ways to side step the rules. Many discovered conveniently placed windows that were perfect for sneaking in our out of.
All of the graduates went on to do wonderful things in the World Wars, international health, and many other health care practices. For many, they owe their lives to these women, and the Museum of Health Care in Kingston is only one way of saying thank you.