Stepping back in time: Finding the history of the MCH

Many of you may not realize that in the F wing there was a room which contained papers, books, pictures and many other mementos of the history of The Montreal Children’s Hospital.

We have been working on sorting and cataloguing all these mementos to be put into storage until the move to the Glen site where we hope there will be a museum open to anyone who is interested.

The documents go as far back as the minutes of meetings held to plan the opening of the Children’s Memorial in 1904 and ledgers of how the money was spent. The transition from The Children’s Memorial to The Montreal Children’s Hospital of today has seen many changes in the way children and adolescents are treated as advancement in medical knowledge continued. In early pictures we don’t see the presence of parents but later pictures show their involvement. There is also the equipment and technology that have made such a difference to diagnosis and care.

There are documents on nursing including a letter dated January 5, 1936, where a nurse was reprimanded for her conduct by her supervisor, the Superintendent of Nurses.

“Dear Miss ----------
    As a member of the staff of the Children’s Memorial Hospital, I appeal to you for allegiance to a standard of conduct which I feel must be maintained in this hospital if it is to continue to hold the respect of the public. Disregard of this appeal will mean dismissal on the grounds of disloyalty to the principles of the school.

The following obligations are demanded of the members of the Nursing Staff:
  • Staff Nurses are asked to be in their rooms as much as possible by12 midnight. On occasions, to be out not later than 2 a.m. In the case of a special function which may continue past 1.30 a.m. to notify me of the intention of attending it and the probable hour of its ending with a view to extending the 2 a.m. limit.
  • Staff Nurses are asked not to indulge in outside entertainment after any dance. To come directly home after an outside dance. To refuse to associate with night clubs of low order or frequent any night club after midnight.
Marjorie Jenkins
Superintendent of Nurses"

How times have changed! In some areas yes, but looking back at some documents we see that some of the struggles of today are not that different. How do we get a new building to better serve the needs of our young patients? How can we manage with the budget we have?

We also found documents relating to physicians, such as Dr. Goldbloom, Dr Jessie Boyd Scriver and others who were pioneers in the advancement of medical treatment of children.

As we sorted and catalogued all this history of The Montreal Children’s Hospital one thing that stands out is the devotion of the many people, both professionals and support staff, who have contributed to this hospital during its history.

There is a small display outside the Medical Library (C4) and hopefully there will soon be an exhibit in the glass cases on the 1st floor, B wing.

The Three Retirees

Merley Cumberbatch, Elvie Parayno, and Elisabeth Gibbon

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