Lyle Creelman was a provincial, national and international nursing leader of great distinction. She was born August 14, 1908, in Nova Scotia and later, moved to Vancouver with her parents. Her first career was as an elementary school teacher but she changed professions, graduating from VGH in 1936 and from UBC with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Nursing A Rockefeller Scholarship in 1938 enabled her to obtain a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1939. She worked for the Metropolitan Health Department in Vancouver serving as a supervisor of public health nursing, and then director of nursing during the early 1940’s. She was president of RNABC in 1944.
Her international nursing role began in 1944 when she was invited to join the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). After nearly a year in England, she was appointed chief nurse in the British Zone of occupied Germany. Her job was to organize nursing services to help care for the millions of displaced people. After an intense two-year period, she returned to Canada and resumed her work with public health in Vancouver. She was soon granted leave to serve as field director of an extensive study of public health services in Canada being conducted by the Canadian Public Health Association She was co-author, with Dr. J.H. Baillie, of a highly acclaimed report on the project. Their study was used for many years as a reference work for public health professionals in Canada and served as a guide to a new direction of public health nursing in Canada. In 1950, she was invited to become a nursing consultant, in maternal and child health by the World Health organization. In 1954, she became WHO’s Chief Nursing Officer. Following retirement in 1963, she was commissioned by the WHO to help study maternal and child health services in South East Asia.
Lyle received many tributes, including the Jeanne Mance Award, the highest honour of the Canadian Nurses Association. In 1963, she received an honorary doctorate (LLD) from the University of New Brunswick. In 1967, she was awarded Canada’s Centennial Medal and in 1971, was named to the Order of Canada. In 1972, she received a lifetime honorary membership from the Canadian Public Health Association and in 1992, she received an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of British Columbia as well as the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.
Lyle was an avid outdoor person who enjoyed hiking, long walks and photography. A dog lover, she had several dogs as companions. During her last few years, she lived at Hollyburn House, West Vancouver. She died on February 27, 2007.
On May 13, 2009, – Lyle was named one of 100 award winners of the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia’s “Centennial Award of Distinction.” These unique, once-in-a-lifetime awards recognized 100 current/former registered nurses (10 per decade) whose significant accomplishments have influenced the advancement of College initiatives, nursing practice and/or the nursing profession over the past 100 years. In August, 2011, the award was presented to Lyle’s niece, Lorna Creelman Nauss.