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Women’s College Hospital School of Nursing: The Beginning

A smiling young woman in a nurse's uniform holds a bouquet. She is outside, and near her a table holds vases and a rolled and ribboned paper.

Graduation ceremony for Miss Sarah Jane Glenn.


In 1915, Miss Sarah Jane Glenn was admitted to Women’s College Hospital as a patient. During her stay, she was impressed with the care and attention she received from the nurses. Miss Glenn decided then and there that she wanted to become a nurse. She asked the hospital superintendent, Miss Florence Martin, if she could stay on and train at the hospital. Miss Martin agreed and the Women’s College Hospital School of Nursing was quietly founded.

Written by hand in a decorative font and coloured ink, the certificate bears the signatures of the President and Secretary.

Miss Sarah Jane Glenn’s graduation certificate.

At the time, the hospital was located in a small 3-storey residential house at 125 Rusholme Road in Toronto. Miss Glenn trained in the hospital wards and clinics. She helped with small medical procedures, made beds, delivered meals, and rocked babies – all under the supervision of the nurses and doctors. After two years, she was presented with a handmade graduation certificate and a pin at a small ceremony held in the backyard of the hospital. All the staff and board members attended.

Miss Glenn was a great favourite with the staff and there was much enthusiasm on the occasion of the presentation.

Dr. Emma Leila Skinner Gordon, 1922

Like other hospitals in Toronto, Women’s College Hospital established its own training school for nurses.

On May 20, 1918, the hospital staff gathered again, as the Women’s College Hospital Training School for Nurses presented its very first class of two young women with nursing diplomas! This tradition would continue for another sixty years.

Two women in nurses' uniforms stand before a brick building holding bouquets and smiling.

The first graduating class.