Symbol of a Profession: One Hundred Years of Nurses' Cap


Upon completing her training probation period lasting approximately three months, the student nurse, or "probie" participated in a "capping" ceremony, where she received her first cap. At the Hamilton and District Regional nSchool of Nursing, for example, probies were given a cap with a white band (1999.267.35). The ceremony promoted school loyalty and pride and inspired students to persevere through the rigours of training ahead. Part of the ritual was a vow.
See The Gloria (Barwell) Kay Nurses' Caps Collection


Florence Nightingale's greatest achievement was to raise nursing to the level of a respectable profession for women. In 1860, with the public subscriptions of the Nightingale Fund, she established the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St Thomas' Hospital, London.

Cape. St. Boniface Hospital School of Nursing, Manitoba, 1947.
Canadian Nurses Association Collection

The nurse's blue cape with red lining is an enduring legacy of the Florence Nightingale era.
In 1844, the Grey Nuns of Montreal sent four missionaries to start a hospital in the Red River colony of St. Boniface, near Winnipeg, Manitoba.
CMC 2000.111.381

School Pin. University of British Columbia School of Nursing, Vancouver, 1968. Canadian Nurses Association Collection

The University of British Columbia was the first to offer a university programme for nurses, starting in 1918.
CMC 2000.111.175