If you happen to be browsing through the Museum of Health Care’s online database in the nursing category, you might notice that a lot of the artefacts therein– 185, in fact– were donated by one Nora Valleau.
Valleau was born in Bancroft, Ontario in 1907, on her family’s farm. After moving to Trenton in 1917 and going to school there and in Warkworth, Valleau started her studies at the Kingston General Hospital School of Nursing in 1925. At this time, the new nurses-in-training were required to supply their own uniforms, so Valleau’s mother Elsie made hers. After a three month probationary period, Nora Valleau took an exam and finished fourth in her class with a grade of 94%.
Valleau and her fellow student nurses received no pay for the twelve-hour shifts they worked for seven days a week, but there was also no tuition or residence fees to be paid, and food and laundry was also covered. After three years of training at Kingston General Hospital, Nora Valleau finished with a final grade of 95% and graduated in 1928. Soon after, she became a registered nurse. The Great Depression followed, and work was difficult to find, but Valleau worked at KGH, the military hospital, and as a private duty nurse.
Valleau would travel back and forth between Brighton and Kingston during this time so that she could earn money and also nurse her mother, who died in 1932. Through the rest of the Depression and World War II, she worked eight hours private duty shifts for seven days a week to support herself. She made brief forays into hospital and sanatorium work in the 1930s, working at the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, and the Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Hamilton, Ontario. She retired at the age of seventy-two, having loved her work and touched the lives of countless patients, some of whom she cared for for many years. Nora Valleau passed away in her ninety-fifth year, in August 2001.
To discover more of the Nora Valleau Collection click the button below.