• Saanich Pioneer Society

"Non sibi, sed toti" (Not for ourselves, but others): Celebrating Peninsula Nurses

In 2019, the Royal Jubilee School of Nursing (RJSN) Archives and Museum closed and the collection was distributed to other historical organizations across Canada. The Saanich Pioneer Society is grateful to have received a number of artifacts including uniforms, instruments, student and graduate pins, and other nursing memorabilia. A former RJSN student and retired nurse also donated items from her personal collection, and our Archives includes information and photos relating to nurses who studied elsewhere.

In this online exhibit, which will evolve and grow over time, we'll profile Peninsula nurses represented in our collections.

Edith Mary Walker

Portrait of a woman. Portrait is surrounded by small nursing artifacts.
Edith Mary Walker owned and ran the Cedar Cottage Nursing and Maternity Home in Saanichton.

Portrait in above photo: Edith Mary Walker (1859-1931), Christmas 1927 (Saanich Pioneer Society Archives F531Ph #1) Edith Walker was a nurse and midwife. She attended many home births as well as having five care beds in their own house. It was called Cedar Cottage Nursing Home and sometimes Mrs. Walker’s Maternity Home. This little cottage is where many children in the district were born. A partial list of the local families who had children born there included: Dean, Briscoe, Herd, Norbury, Nunn, two Roberts babies, three Gillan babies, two Whitlaw babies, two Horth babies and at least eight Lidgate babies, including one set of twins.

According to her obituary, she died on November 26, 1931 at age 72 in the Coach Lines Depot where she was waiting for her daughter to arrive from Tacoma, Washington. Her obituary makes no mention of the fact she was a midwife. According to Edith’s friends, her daughter, Eva, was a socialite and did not want to admit that her mother was a midwife. Edith is buried at St. Stephen’s cemetery.

In 1997, there was an effort to have the old Nursing Home house moved when the lot was being redeveloped. The recommendation sent to Central Saanich Council by the Heritage Advisory Committee was “that approval be given that the “Walker residence” be moved to the grounds of the North and South Saanich Agricultural Society, the addition to the south side of the house be removed and that the exterior impregnated fibreboard be replaced by horizontal cedar siding and painted white.”

Though the house was in the Central Saanich Heritage Registry it did not have Heritage Designation. Apparently the answer was “no” to both Designation and being moved, since the house is gone.

Effie Hughes

Effie Hughes graduated from Royal Jubilee Hospital School Of Nursing in 1943 and served overseas in WWII. The Royal Jubilee Hospital School of Nursing motto was "Non sibi, sed toti" (Not for ourselves, but others). She was the granddaughter of William Thomson of Bannockburn Farm, and herself lived there for a time.

We'll be adding more information about Effie's life here.

Profiles to come:

  • Hilda Butterfield

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