Fun Facts About Lethbridge

Picture of the 1st three graduates of the Galt School of Nursing. From left: Lillian Donaldson, Lucy Hatch and Elizabeth Patteson, who graduated in 1913. Courtesy of Galt Museum & Archives.

Elizabeth Patteson Taylor

by Belinda Crowson

In 1891, Elizabeth (Bessie) Patteson was born in Fort Macleod, where her father worked for the Mounted Police. Her mother passed away in childbirth when Elizabeth was six. In the early 1900s, the family moved to Lethbridge where her father started an Insurance and Real Estate company.

As a child, Elizabeth dreamed of becoming a nurse and on September 4, 1910, enrolled in the first class of students at the Galt School of Nursing. Fourteen young women entered training, but many who entered did not make it to graduation. In 1913, Elizabeth was among the first three graduates of the Galt Nursing School, graduating with Lillian Donaldson and Lucy Hatch.

In 1916, shortly before he was sent overseas during the First World War, she married Arnold Taylor. Elizabeth was unable to join the Canadian Army Nursing Sisters (who did not take married women) so joined the British Red Cross Auxiliary and was placed in charge of a Berkshire Auxiliary Hospital.

Following the war, the Taylors moved to Edmonton where she worked with various organizations including the Victorian Order of Nurses, Women’s Canadian Club, Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire.

During the Second World War, Elizabeth returned to work with the Red Cross and worked on the executive of the Air Force Mothers, the War Service Council and the United Services Association, helping ensure entertainment and hospital visits for soldiers.

Elizabeth was often asked about her memories of the Galt School of Nursing. She had many memories of the long hours and the interaction between the nurses and the doctors. She also recalled the Bachelor Ball, the most important annual social event in Lethbridge. Student nurses had one half day off each week and were allowed one late evening per month. Curfew was strictly monitored. Elizabeth was late returning to the nurses’ home after the Bachelor Ball and had to climb in through a window.


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