Health History Lecture Review


This lecture was delivered by Dr Lesley McBain, PhD for the March 2015 Health HIstory Lecture, Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry, Nursing at UBC.

Summary: Following World War II, provincial governments began extending healthcare to residents living in northern remote communities in Canada as a way to “modernize” the vast region and to pave the way for increased resource extraction. Small outpost nursing stations were established as part of a public health program across the north where public health nurses, often working alone and facing a number of challenges, delivered health care services to the primarily Aboriginal population. Lesley McBain introduced four perspectives as a way to understand and place in context the nurses’ experiences and interaction with northern communities. These included: the geographical notions of place and region; nursing notions of distal nursing – a framework offered by Ruth Malone – that explains the way nursing practice and interaction with users of service is dependent upon relational proximity that might get interrupted or be constrained by larger spatial-structural influences, such as – in this case – the federal – provincial division of health care delivery; the notion of modernization; and lastly, perspectives of colonization and internal colonization, which in this case referred to the way the North was viewed as a colony of the south from an intraprovincial point of view. These influences on nurses’ work and interaction with the local communities meant that the nurses’ roles and their perceptions of the communities where they worked were often ambiguous and contradictory, resulting in a mixed experience for nurses and patients alike. Drawing from the nurses’ personal correspondence and interviews, Lesley McBain gave insightful examples of nurses’ interactions and experiences, illustrating the perspectives about the places where nurses worked and the people they provided services to during a time of significant change.

For further details please refer to the recording of the talk, which has been made available by UBC IK Barber Learning Centre’s Community Outreach Program – Accessible Here.

Dr. Lesley McBain is Associate Professor Department of Indigenous Languages, Arts, and Cultures (DILAC), First Nations University of Canada. She received her doctorate degree in Geography from the University of Saskatchewan and has a Masters and Bachelors degree in Geography from the University of Saskatchewan.She is the Consortium’s 2015 Visiting Associate Professor.

If you want to read more about Lesley McBain’s research on the history of nursing in northern communities, see: McBain (2012) “Pulling Up Their Sleeves and Getting on with It: Providing Health Care in a Northern Remote Region,” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, 29 (2), 309-328. This article is available on line through open access at: http://www.cbmh.ca/index.php/cbmh/article/view/1513

The UBC School of Nursing Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry Lecture Series is collaboration with the UBC Library and IK Barber Centre.

Lesley McBain


Lyle Creelman DVD Now Available

In May 2009, on the occasion of its 90th Anniversary, the School of Nursing produced a DVD celebrating the life and career of nursing leader Lyle Creelman. Spanning the 1930s to the 1970s, this unique DVD showcases interviews with Creelman, photographs of her long career with the World Health Organization, and passages of her writing.

The DVD is now available through UBC Library: We invite you to view it here.


Health History Seminar Webcasts

Please follow the links below to view talks from this year’s Health History Seminar Series. Both Webcasts have been made available by the Irving K Barber Learning Centre.

Dr. Sally Mennill: 
Reducing Risk: Caesarean Section at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital, 1950-1970  (Presented January 29, 2015)


Dr. Lesley McBain: 
Place and Nursing in Remote Northern Communities: A Historical Perspective (Presented March 11, 2015)

Nursing History Symposium 2014: Webcasts and Comments From Panel Members

On November 20, 2014, Dr. Mona Gleason and Dr. Linda Quiney presented their work at the annual Nursing History Symposium followed by comments from a panel of scholars in related areas. We have collected additional comments from these panel members to share here. Please enjoy their reflections.

In the morning, Mona Gleason (Professor, Educational and Child Studies) explored how health professionals have contributed to conceptions of “the healthy child” in early twentieth century Canada. View Dr. Gleason’s presentation here.

Dr. Judith Lynam (Professor, School of Nursing) and Dr. Gladys McPherson (Assistant Professor, School of Nursing) responded to this work.

In the afternoon, Linda Quiney (Independent Scholar) shared her investigation of Canadian women as Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses during and after World War One. View Dr. Quiney’s presentation here.

Glennis Zilm (Honorary Professor, School of Nursing) and Dr. Susan Duncan (Associate Professor, Thompson Rivers University School of Nursing) responded to this work.

Dr. Gleason and Dr. Boschma

Dr. Gleason and Dr. Boschma

Dr. Vertinsky, Dr. Gleason and Dr. Lesley McBain

Dr. Patricia Vertinsky, Dr. Mona Gleason and Dr. Lesley McBain


Welcome Visiting Associate Professor: Dr. Lesley McBain

The Consortium welcomes Dr. Lesley McBain as our newest visiting associate professor. She is joining us in February and March of 2015.

Dr. McBain has a PhD in Geography from the University of Saskatchewan and is currently an Associate Professor in Indigenous Studies at the First Nations University of Canada. Her research focuses on health care delivery in rural and remote regions of Saskatchewan, in both the historical and contemporary contexts. Dr. McBain is involved in a number of on-going research projects, one of which examines the delivery of dementia care services in First Nation reserve communities and non First Nation communities to determine if there are areas of collaboration between the different jurisdictions.

While visiting, Dr. McBain will guest lecture on “Place and Nursing in Remote Northern Communities: A Historical Perspective” and work with graduate students interested in historical approaches to nursing research and using place in historical and contemporary analyses.

For more information, please email us at nursinghistory@nursing.ubc.ca




Health History Lecture: Reducing Risk: Cesarean Section at St. Paul’s Hospital, 1950-1970

Please join the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry for the next lecture in our Health History Lecture Series. On January 29, 2015, we welcome speaker Dr. Sally Mennill, who teaches in the History Department at Douglas College. In this lecture, “Reducing Risk: Caesarean Section at St. Paul’s Hospital, 1950-1970,” Dr. Mennill will present her work on the historical development of the caesarean section following World War II. This lecture is hosted jointly by the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry and The Collaboration for Maternal and Newborn Health.

Watch the Webcast


  January 29, 2015

  12:00 – 1:00 pm

  UBC School of Nursing, Room T182 (UBC Hospital 3rd Floor)



Reminder – Nursing History Symposium

The second annual Nursing History Symposium is coming up quickly. We will be meeting on Thursday, November 20th at 10:00 in the School of Nursing. To whet your appetite, we invite you to check out this Q & A with Symposium speakers Linda Quiney and Mona Gleason.

It is not too late to register for the event. Simply follow this link.

See you Thursday!



Healthcare History Events – After the Asylum

Are you interested in the history of psychiatric deinstitutionalization in Canada?

The organizers of the upcoming After the Asylum Conference are hosting two public events showcasing the “provocative, visually appealing and interactive representations of the ground-breaking 5-year project about the history and ongoing legacy of psychiatric deinstitutionalization.” Both events are sure to capture the imagination and broaden understanding of mental health in both the hospital and community contexts.

On November 6th at Gallery Gachet, attendees can view unique archival photographs and listen to authors read from their new collection, “Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies” at the Asylum to Activism Reception.

And on November 7th at the Vancouver Central Public Library, attendees can view and participate in interactive exhibits and meet many of the folks behind the project at the After the Asylum Exhibit.

For more information and to register for these free events, go to the After the Asylum Public Events Page

See You There!



2014 Nursing History Symposium: Registration Open

The Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry invites you to join us for our 2nd annual Nursing History Symposium. This year, we are featuring two presentations on new work in nursing and health history. Dr. Mona Gleason, Professor in Educational Studies at UBC, will explore how health professionals have contributed to conceptions of “the healthy child” in early twentieth century Canada. And, Dr. Linda Quiney, Historian, will share her investigation of Canadian women as Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses during and after World War One. There will be panel commentaries and audience discussion following the presentations. Lunch and coffee will be served.

Please join us on November 20, 2014 at UBC School of Nursing from 10:00am – 2:30pm for this exciting event. Register online by November 19th Here

Click Here to View Event Poster


Health History Lecture: Working Professionalism, Nursing in Calgary and Vancouver 1958-1977

On May 17, 2014, the Consortium and the BC History of Nursing Society co-hosted Dr. Margaret Scaia (University of Victoria) at the annual BC History of Nursing Society Luncheon. Dr. Scaia presented her PhD dissertation work: Working Professionalism: Nursing in Calgary and Vancouver 1958 to 1977.

Watch The Webcast

Dr. Scaia acknowledges her supervisors Dr. ME Purkis, Dr. L. Marks, & Dr. A. Lepp, and funding support from SSHRC Bombardier Scholarship

The event was held at the Vancouver Lawn Tennis & Badminton Club

  • Date: Saturday, May 17, 2014 (RSVP by May 14)
  • Time: 11:30 am
  • Address: 1630 West 15th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6J 2K7
  • Registration: $36.00, payable to The BC History of Nursing Society