Today would have been Queen Victoria’s 203rd birthday! Victoria Day was established as a holiday in the Province of Canada in 1845, and now is celebrated on the last Monday before May 25th every year in her honour. Queen Victoria impacted Canadian health care practices and the history of Kingston in a number of surprising and fascinating ways!
Kingston’s Queen’s University, where KGH and our museum stand, was named after the young queen upon its establishment in 1841. Additionally, the original KGH building served as Canada’s first parliament building from 1841-1844 before Queen Victoria selected Ottawa as Canada’s permanent capital in 1857.
First, the Victorian Order of Nurses was established in the Queen’s name to celebrate her 60 years on the throne. In 1896, the National Council of Women called upon the wife of Canada’s Governor General, Lady Ishbel Aberdeen, to found an order of visiting nurses to help address a serious nursing shortage. The organization sought to build “cottage hospitals” to serve Canada’s isolated regions, and established sites in most major Canadian cities, including Kingston, in 1898. The Order provided nursing staff to support communities throughout the most important events of the 20th century, and today operates 52 local sites with the help of 14,000 staff and volunteers.
In addition, Queen Victoria is credited with the re-establishment of the Order of St. John in 1888. The Order originated during the Crusades in the 11th century, and was named after the Church of St John in Jerusalem which served as a hospital for sick pilgrims. Since its reinstatement, the Order of St John has become famous for its incredible impact on first aid practices. Specifically, the Order played a key role in the standardization of mouth-to-mouth and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Today, the Order trains about 800,000 Canadians in first aid each year.
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