The PEI Hospital where Mabel trained was first incorporated in 1884 and operated as a public hospital and a training school for nurses. A new facility was built in 1898 on Kensington Road, Charlottetown. By 1918, the Matron was Miss Louise Mackinnon, who later became Mrs Arthur Allen. Mabel's six classmates were Mary Isabel Wright (Mrs Frank MacNeill), Lela S. Acorn (Mrs Lambros), Carrie Acorn (Mrs Ham Brehaut), Jennie May Puncher (Mrs Edwin Weeks), Florence Bruce Martin, and Mae Minchen (Mrs Webster).
From the following nursing photos in Fred May's albums, it looks like this class had fun as a group, although I'm sure there was also lots of hard work involved. Some of the photos may be copies of official school photos, but I believe others were taken with his personal camera.
In 1912, the Prince County Hospital in nearby Summerside started accepting students to its new Nursing School, and its first nurses graduated in 1915. So why didn't Mabel enroll at this school only a few miles from her home? Perhaps it was too close, and the bigger provincial capital with its more established school beckoned. Mabel's mother's cousin Anna Mary (COMPTON) HASZARD had previous graduated from the Charlottetown School of Nursing around the turn of the century, so family tradition could have weighed in its favour. But it might have been the war itself that was Mabel's final motivator, knowing more nurses were needed to help tend the wounded.
The Prince County Hospital School of Nursing fonds (Acc4702 on the PEI Archives site) offers a brief outline of how that particular school operated:
... [Nursing] Students at that time were allowed to enter at various times throughout the year and finished their training when three years were completed, with the emphasis placed on clinical performance rather than academic ability. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, more instruction and classes were offered and exams were written. In the early years of the school, lectures were delivered by the medical staff on an irregular or 'as time permitted' basis. Mrs. Robert Palmer, hired in 1942, was recorded as the first full -time instructor. In 1956, the nursing students on PEI began to write the National League for Nursing examinations. Prior to this, exams were set and corrected on PEI. In 1970, Canada wide exams were introduced.
A 1919 news article in the Charlottetown paper mentions "Nursing Sister Andrew, at present in the city", referring to her as a sister of Rev. Albert Edward ANDREW who received his Military Cross medal. The term "Nursing Sister" is usually reserved for military nurses, but we cannot find any records of Mabel enlisting, nor of her working after graduation (except for this one news reference). It is possible she worked at a public and/or military hospital in Charlottetown, but if so it wasn't for long. Mabel's father's health was failing and he died on 29 Jul 1920, so Mabel probably returned home to St Eleanors to do some private nursing.
I need to backtrack a bit because another factor was a play here. Sometime while she was still in Charlottetown, Mabel met officer Frederick F. MAY, a banker with previous military training and experience who had enlisted in 1914 to go overseas with the 26th New Brunswick Battalion in the First World War. He was wounded early in the war and invalided home, later becoming a recruiting officer in New Brunswick. One theory is that Mabel met Fred while he was recovering in hospital in Charlottetown, perhaps as early as 1915 when she was a nursing student. From the number of nursing photos in Fred's albums, he likely knew and even dated more than one nurse in Charlottetown.
The following marriage announcement was published in the Charlottetown Guardian on 16 July 1921:
As married women did not work in those days, Mabel became a housewife. In 1921 Fred built a house for them in St Eleanors, but it tragically burned down early one morning from unknown causes just before it was ready for occupancy. Thank goodness they weren't already in residence. Although they had very little insurance, they quickly built another house in 1922.
They both were avid gardeners (flowers as well as vegetables), and kept chickens. Fred had a horse named "Tom", a beautiful animal who pulled their buggy and sleigh, perhaps even after they got a car. The couple kept involved with their Andrew relatives, visiting, having them over for meals, taking them places in their car (picnics, fishing etc.), and traveling farther afield with some of them. In 1936 a family group traveled to Nova Scotia to visit Mabel's brother Albert and family. As Fred had been an only child who lost his father at a young age, he was overwhelmed at times by the large and often boisterous Andrew clan.
After less than five years in Duncan, Mabel was widowed in 1951 when Fred collapsed from a heart attack in their home. Sometime in the ensuing seven years Mabel developed bladder cancer, and my grandmother Nell Andrew helped care for her. In the end she died of a stroke on 8 Dec 1958 at Kings Daughters Hospital in Duncan. I have an early memory of my mother getting a call from my grandmother who had been keeping vigil, saying that Aunt Mabel had passed on. I'm sure we must have visited Mabel at her house on occasions before she was went into hospital, but I have no clear memory of that.
In her will, Mabel left her house to my mother Mabel, her namesake and a widow with two young children. I have very fond memories of that little house where we lived for about five years.
REFERENCES and FURTHER READING
Prince Edward Island Hospital School of Nursing - Class of 1918, Acc4670 - Archives Council of PEI site (7 photos not displayed)
Prince Edward Island Hospital (Charlottetown) collection, Acc4840 - Hospital history on PEI Archives site.
Prince County Hospital (Summerside, PEI) School of Nursing, Acc4702 - Hospital history on PEI Archives site.
"52 Ancestors" is a reference to the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge I am participating in.
Reference the No Story Too Small blog by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow for more details.
It is giving me the much needed incentive to write and publish my family stories.