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Grace Maternity Hospital School of Nursing

Documents Only


The School's Beginnings
The Nursing Program

        Eighteen month Grace Graduate –Maternity Nursing Course 1922-1959

        Grace Maternity Hospital Three Year Diploma in Nursing Program, 1951-1961

        Affiliate Programs

        Refresher Course in Obstetrics

        Post Diploma Programs

        In-hospital orientation and in-service programs

        Seminars and workshops


The Schools Beginnings

Under the ownership and stewardship of the Salvation Army, the Grace Maternity Hospital hasFour Graduates, 1956 been a teaching hospital serving the needs of families with particular emphasis on mothers and newborn babies since 1922. Since that time, there has been an education component to the Hospital, which has included students in medicine, nursing and other health professions.


In 1906, the Salvation Army bought a house on Tower Road called “Harrow House,” to operate a rescue home for fallen women. In time, physicians were bringing private patients to the home because of the excellent care provided. After the Halifax Explosion in 1917, city officials and physicians were forced to give thought to the renewal of the City and to the services needed to support its citizens. The Salvation Army was asked to build a maternity hospital and Dalhousie University offered the Salvation Army both land on University Avenue and the funds to build and run the Grace Maternity Hospital. At the time, the Grace Maternity Hospital could accommodate 65 mothers and 65 babies.


Old Grace Maternity Hospital Site, ca. 1922The Grace Maternity School of Nursing was inaugurated in 1922, offering an eighteen month course in Obstetrical and Newborn Nursing, which was discontinued in 1959. In 1951, the three year program in Nursing was begun, and it included affiliations at the Victoria General Hospital, the Halifax Children’s Hospital, the Nova Scotia Sanatorium, and the Nova Scotia Hospital. At the completion of this course, students were eligible to write registration examinations for registration in Nova Scotia. The first student entered in 1951, and graduated from the diploma program in 1954. The program itself was terminated in 1961, with the last class graduating in 1964. In addition to the the diploma program, the school also offered a three month course in Obstetrics for students from other hospitals in the province. Between 1922 and 1961, more than 400 nurses qualified in these obstetrical programs.


Historically, the Grace Maternity Hospital was one of the most unique maternity hospitals in Canada, as it made available to its patients the boon of natural childbirth. In 1956, the Grace Maternity opened a new wing which provided case rooms and nurseries, making it among the first hospitals in North America allowing rooms for families to interact after childbirth. Modernization and expansion took place in 1956, 1962, 1973, and 1977, and the Grace relocated to its present facility in 1992. The new building is connected to the I.W.K. Children’s Hospital by a building which houses a number of departments that provide services for both hospitals.  


 Nurses Graduation, 1962   Nurses with Salvation Army Officer, ca. 1950

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The Nursing Program

The Grace Maternity Hospital has a long history of participation in nursing education. Programs were developed, modified and in some cases discontinued in order to meet the needs of the community and the institution at particular points in time. Education programs offered since the Grace Maternity opened its doors in 1922 can be loosely classified as follows:



1. Eighteen month Grace Graduate –Maternity Nursing Course 1922-1959.


The eighteen month Grace Maternity Nursing course was established in 1922, the year in which the hospital opened. This course took in its last class in 1959 and graduating some in 1960 and 1961. Over the years, approximately 407 nurses graduated from this course.

First Graduating Class from the Obstetrical and Newborn Nursing Program, ca. 1924

The goal of this course was to prepare maternity nurses, (the total course having been conducted within the walls of the Grace Maternity). The students rotated to each department in the hospital. Questions arose in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s concerning certification of the Grace graduates to practice. At that time the only groups of nurses certified were C.N.A.’s and Registered Nurses. The Grace graduates were given the opportunity to obtain nursing assistant certification in the early 1960’s.

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2. Grace MPreparation for the Capping Ceremony with Senior Nurses, 1955aternity Hospital three year Diploma in Nursing Program 1951-1961.


This program was instituted at the Grace Maternity Hospital in 1951, and terminated with the graduation of the class of ’61, in 1964. During the thirteen years this program was offered, 53 nurses graduated. The student nurses in this program spent close to two years of their program affiliating at other hospitals including; three months at the Halifax Children’s Hospital; fourteen months at the Victoria General Hospital; one month at the Nova Scotia Sanatorium in Kentville; and three months at the Nova Scotia Hospital. The remainder of their three year course was spent in clinical experience and theory at the Grace.

List of Graduates from the Three Year Diploma Course in Nursing, ca.1970

Capping and Candle Lighting Ceremony, ca. 1960 Three Nurses at Graduation, 1964

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3. Affiliate Programs  The Salvation Army School of Nursing Diploma, 1960


3.1 Diploma Schools in Nursing

3.2 University Programs

3.3 Nursing Assistant Programs


3. 1 Diploma schools in nursing

From the time the Grace opened its doors in 1922 it has offered its facilities for the instruction of nursing students from affiliate hospitals. Students from diploma programs received a three month affiliation with experience in nursery, postpartum, case room, and clinic. Up until 1972, all affiliating in this hospital were taught and supervised in the clinical experience by Grace nursing Instructors. After this period, which coincided with the change from the three year diploma program to a two year diploma program, schools utilizing the Grace hospital facilities sent their students accompanied by their own instructors. Diploma schools of nursing utilizing Grace Maternity Hospital facilities included:

  • Nova Scotia Hospital 1922-1953Grace Maternity Nursing Course Pin, 1984

  • Yarmouth Regional 1952-1971

  • Halifax Children’s Hospital 1922-1949

  • Glace Bay General 1964-1970

  • Victoria General 1922-1995

  • Halifax Infirmary 1976- 1994

From 1963-1967 students taking their obstetrical affiliation at the Halifax Infirmary also affiliated with the Dalhousie Clinic, Grace Maternity Hospital. This group included students from the Halifax Infirmary, Nova Scotia Hospital, Halifax Children’s Hospital, and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in North Sydney. The Halifax Infirmary started using the Grace Maternity Hospital for their total affiliation experience in 1976, the year in which their obstetrical facilities at the Infirmary terminated.


3.2 University Programs

From 1967 to the present, the Dalhousie University School of Nursing has been obtaining clinical experience for their four year basic undergraduate Bachelor program at the Grace. In the 1970’s, the nursing components of Dalhousie University and the Mount Saint Vincent University schools were added to those obtaining obstetrical clinical experience in this institution.


3.3 Nursing Assistant Programs

The following Nursing programs have obtained clinical experience from the Grace Maternity Hospital at one time:

  • Camp Hill Hospital 1963-1970

  • Nova Scotia Hospital 1963-1971

  • Dartmouth Regional Vocational School 1970- present

The Dartmouth Regional Vocational nursing assistant students gained clinical nursing experience in the care of mother and baby. Case room experience currently consists of observation of one normal delivery.

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4. Refresher Course in ObstetricsThe Salvation Army Grace Maternity Hospital School for Nurses Diploma, 1930

In 1967, the Grace Maternity Hospital offered three refresher courses in obstetrical nursing for a total of 17 nurses. These nurses received a series of lectures as well as clinical experience in Case Room, antenatal unit, postnatal unit, normal nursery and premature nursery care. The length of the course was six weeks.



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5. Post Diploma Programs

The Grace Maternity Hospital has offered two post-diploma programs in maternity nursing (1973- present) and in neonatal intensive care (1968-present).

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6. In-hospital orientation and in-service programs

Any new employees of the Grace Maternity Hospital (or of the I.W.K Children's Hospital, which shares the facilities) are introduced to the rules, layout and history of the hospital and also to the rules and guidelines governing their duties within the Hospital through in-hospital orientation. Similarly, education days and in-service programs operate for RN'S, LPN's and other practitioners in the form of in-service training. This day-training encourages professional development and includes reviews of existing products and procedures or introduces new technology and health care practices to the practitioners.

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7. Seminars and workshopsGraduating Class, 1953

Seminars and workshops are also held on a periodic basis in the form of public lecture series primarily, and are open to hospital staff as well as the public at large.    



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© 2005 Mount Saint Vincent University Archives
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