Wider Horizons

When Lethbridge College nursing students don that blue uniform, do they realize the history and tradition they are part of?legacy nurse

Lucy Hatch McInnis, a graduate of the first Galt School of Nursing class in 1913, described her uniform on page 16 of the book White Caps and Red Roses: “Her blue checkered dress was buttoned diagonally from the neck to the left side of the bodice. A stiff, upright white collar encircled her throat. Around her waist a heavy white apron, three yards in circumference and three inches from the floor, was buttoned over her full-skirted dress. Beneath, she wore a ruffled muslin petticoat and specified undergarments. To complete the uniform a cap gathered under a wide floppy band perched on top of her ‘done-up’ tresses.”

The uniform is certainly very different than those worn today but note the colour of the checkered dress – blue. The same colour is assigned to Lethbridge College nursing students today. What Lucy did not mention in her description were the shoes and stockings. Galt nursing students wore black or brown stockings and shoes. They had to earn the right to wear the white shoes and stockings associated with the Registered Nurse, and didn’t receive those until further along in their training.

Leaving the blue uniform and brown stockings and shoes behind was a rite of passage. It marked an important change of status and was a day students looked forward to throughout their training. Traditions developed over the years. At the Galt Museum, we’ve heard stories of the shoes being thrown off the High Level Bridge (for which they got into trouble). Others had bonfires at Henderson Lake and burned the shoes.

While the Galt Hospital closed in the 1950s, the Galt School of Nursing name remained at the Municipal Hospital until 1979. In 1979, nursing training was taken over by the college. Today training is shared by the college and university in a successful and thriving partnership.

When students wear those blue uniforms they are part of a tradition that stems from the first Galt School of Nursing class. What tradition do students today have for when they finally leave those blue uniforms behind?

For more information about the Galt School of Nursing, check out the Collections and Archives Online at www.galtmuseum.com, email info@galtmuseum.com or call 403.320.3954.

Wider Horizons
Belinda Crowson, Galt Museum and Archives |
Original Publication Date:

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