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Mary Newton, b. 1860

Edmonton's first lay nurse arrived from England in the summer of 1886, to live with her clergyman brother and to regain her own health. She was soon back to work.

Mary Newton represented an influential English nursing movement that pre-dated even Florence Nightingale and that originated in Anglican Church service. The Anglican nurses lived a religious life at St. John's House in London and went out to local hospitals for medical training. St. John's House was able to provide Nightingale with six nurses when she went off to serve in the Crimean War.

When Mary arrived at the Hermitage, her brother's Anglican mission eight miles downstream of Edmonton, she had already served as a professor at Queen Charlotte's Maternity Hospital in London. A local newspaper story about her arrival said she hoped to resume nursing if her health permitted; there was soon a log hospital at the Hermitage, and Mary was hard at work. Five years later, Mary advertised that she would hire out as a nurse and midwife in private homes, for the sum of 10 dollars a week. Interestingly, Mary Newton is also credited with introducing lilacs to Alberta.

Excerpted from 200 Remarkable Alberta Women by Kay Sanderson with permission from the Famous Five Foundation

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