Victorian Order of Nurses (Richmond-Vancouver Branch)

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Authorized form of name

Victorian Order of Nurses (Richmond-Vancouver Branch)

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  • VON BC
  • Victorian Order of Nurses (Richmond Branch)
  • Victorian Order of Nurses (Vancouver Branch)
  • Victorian order of Nurses (South Vancouver Branch)
  • The Local Association for the City of Vancouver of the Victorian Order of Nurses
  • Victorian Order of Nurses (Greater Vancouver Branch)

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The Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) is a non-profit organization that has provided home health care services, respite care, occupational health nursing, homemaking services, meals-on-wheels, well babies clinics, prenatal and postnatal education and care, and other social and health services to Canadians in need for more than one hundred years. The Victorian Order of Nurses was established in 1887 with Lady Ishbel Aberdeen as its first president. At the annual meeting of the National Council of Women, presided by Lady Aberdeen, a resolution from the president of the Local Council in Vancouver was read calling for nurses in the isolated and impoverished settlements of the far west. Lady Aberdeen had visited Vancouver the year before, where she is said to have first heard of the hardships facing families remote from the timely reach of necessary medical care. The president of the Halifax Local Council then proposed that a national nursing service be established in honor of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. With the public support of Dr Alfred Worcester, founder of the Waltham Training School for District Nurses in Massachusetts, and with the initiative of Charlotte MacLeod, the Order's first superintendent and former superintendent of the Waltham school, Lady Aberdeen founded the Victorian Order of Nurses that year. At the end of 1898 the Order was granted its charter by the Queen. By that time, four trained nurses had been dispatched to the Klondike region and begun work in the middle of a typhoid epidemic.

In 1901, Nurse Hill, a member of the Victorian Order, started work in Vancouver according to the VON records. “Maternity services was the chief part of the nurses' work, and care of what was termed 'the sick poor' became a recurring problem” (AM1544/1/S3/F01, Research Material, "Victorian Order of Nurses for B.C.; The Report of the Regional Director; Annual Meeting May 24, 1973.; Surrey, B.C."). Since Nurse Hill began her efforts the charitable work of the Victorian Order of Nurses in the Vancouver area has not ceased. The VON has administered a Vancouver Branch under various names over the years: the branch was first called The Local Association for the City of Vancouver of the Victorian Order of Nurses (1901 – 1920), which was later known as the Greater Vancouver Branch (name in use as early as 1920, officially adopted in 1926), and then the Vancouver Branch (name in use as early as 1936, officially adopted in 1958).

A South Vancouver branch of the VON was established in 1912. In 1920 the South Vancouver branch was dissolved into the Vancouver branch (known as the Greater Vancouver Branch at that time) which retained a South Vancouver committee responsible for local organization, publicity and the raising of funds. The Richmond Branch, established 1949, amalgamated with the Vancouver branch in 1971 to form the Richmond-Vancouver Branch. In 1998 the Richmond-Vancouver Branch changed its name to VON BC. And in 2006, VON BC, the only VON branch in the region since 1982, became an independent non-profit organization known as Health and Home Care Society of BC.

Banks, M. 2001. Sir John George Bourinot, Victorian Canadian: His Life, Times, and Legacy. McGill-Queen's Press. P. 160


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