By Marjorie (Espley) Wilson – Class 1935

Marjorie wrote this article for our 2006 newsletter. She has just celebeated her 99th birthday and remains active. 

Student Residences / Homes

  • There were “5” scattered around V.G.H. – from Broadway to 12th Ave. and Heather/Laurel to 10th Ave… Four were shacky.   The “Old Home” was new and up to date, and there were two to a room.   Each home had a matron who kept an eagle eye on every activity!  After our annual holiday or following night shift, we often found we had a different room /home and roommate.
  • There was no personal interest shown toward us.   We did not have any planned off duty activities – a big adjustment for out of town students.  Most students did not have money as it was “The Dirty Thirties”.
  • One Christmas an out of town probie was visiting with friends of her family.  The host phoned Miss Fairley and asked if they could keep her out an extra half hour and Miss Fairley replied “CERTAINLY NOT”!

Morning Routines (carried out by the night supervisor)

  • The students “rushed” over to the “Old Nurses Home” to be on time for 7: AM roll call.   New ward assignments then were given out.
  • The senior students were at the front of the line.  The probies wore their Blue Standard, Little Bib & Apron.
  • This was followed by prayers, hymn and inspection, then it was off to Heather Pavilion for breakfast.

Student Dining Room

  • It was a large dining room and “just like home”.   Nicely laid tables for 6-10, white tablecloths and waitress service.   Our meals were good.
  • At Christmas some of the doctors and maybe a surgeon would come in at noon and carve the turkeys for our meal.

Student Infirmary (PWP)

  • The students were seen by Miss Wittmayer RN and Dr. Murray Baird. It was like being in prison, a private room, no visitors except your mother, no telephone and “Very Isolated”.


  • In the summer on afternoons, we sometimes would take a lunch provided by the hospital kitchen and go by bus to Stanley Park and have a picnic.   We also took the bus downtown and did a little shopping and got back in time to report on duty.

VON Experience (2 weeks)

  • The students that were assigned to the VON – had to wear their blue standard and have a navy blue coat.   As few of us had such a coat, there was “one” that was passed around!   Miss Fairley checked us over to see that the dress was the proper length.
  • The student went with the nurse (12 hour shift) and stayed all night.   As there were a number of home deliveries, we bathed Mothers and Babies but left the tidying up to the family!!

Early Blood Transfusion

  • The intern would start the I.V…  A junior student nurse would have to sit with the patient during the transfusion (pretty dull).

Diet Kitchen

  • Better forgotten the time spent there, but oh my those pots and pans!


  • We bought our own flowers and walked over to the old Normal School.   My mother and grandmother came from Regina.

Nursing Career – now it was time to get a job and lucky me!

  1. I started out being On Call as a float at VGH.  You might work a week – be fired – then called back. The hospital had little money and this was their system.
  2. I was hired full time ward ‘L’ (ENT) mainly (F) patients.  Over nine years I worked as General Duty Assistant Head and then Head Nurse.   How was that!
  3. Circa 1946 – I applied to the Admitting office and was accepted – worked hard – and finally became the Chief Admitting Officer and THERE IT WAS!!