Daily Archives: March 30, 2011

I’m Now a Double Blogger

       Papa’s got a brand new blog!

      As if one blog wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I now have two! The new blog is much different from readreidread and has a specialized theme –  the history of my hometown Shoal Lake, Manitoba.

        The genesis of Shoal Lake History goes back to my hospital stay in January when I had plenty of time to reflect on my life and identify any loose ends that were dangling in front of me. One loose end was all this stuff I’d written about my hometown that was never published anywhere. What better place than a blog to share the little town’s history! 

         It’s a WordPress blog at www.shoallakehistory.com and uses the 2010 Theme which is more than adequate for my needs. I wrote a short article for the hometown paper about the new site. Here it is:

New Website Devoted to Shoal Lake History

             From the North-West Mounted Police to the Manitoba and North-Western Railway, from dirt-poor settlers to self-made millionaires, from world-class butter to the last scalp taken in Manitoba, all the tragedy and the achievement comes alive online at Shoal Lake History.

            Created and written by author and former Shoal Lake resident Reid Dickie, the site (actually a WordPress blog: http://www.shoallakehistory.com) makes Shoal Lake History available to the world. The new site contains seventy-seven stories and feature articles about the town’s past and over 100 pictures depicting Shoal Lake through the decades.

             “While I was researching feature articles for Crossroads This Week before and during the centennial, I unearthed some wonderful stories about Shoal Lake that needed to be told,” says Dickie. “I’m especially fond of the sixty Shoal Lake Minutes, short articles on specific events or people which each take about a minute to read. Overall, it’s an easy-to-read format and very user-friendly.”

            When asked why he created the blog, Dickie, who recently retired, said, “I have the time, the energy, the resources and the interest. Plus it’s hard to retire from something I never saw as being work.”

            He’s also repaying a debt. “I spent eleven years, from age 8 to 19, growing up in Shoal Lake in the Sixties. They were formative years. Later in my writer’s life, I found my memories of the little town to be a goldmine for stories, situations and characters. The least I can do as payback is help people remember where they come from. That’s my legacy to Shoal Lake.” 

            What’s the future of the Shoal Lake History site? “I see it as an onus blog,” says Dickie.” By that I mean, I’ve done some research, written some articles and created the site. I’ll occasionally add to it but now the onus is on current and former residents of Shoal Lake, or anyone who has an interest in the little town’s history, to add new and fresh material.” Asked what kind of material he hoped people would submit, Dickie replied, “Personal stories, short or long articles, updates, historical pictures, family histories, school projects – anything related to Shoal Lake’s past from any era. All contributors will be published and credited. Details are on the site’s About page.”

            Dickie hopes that histories from Oakburn and Kelloe will be submitted as there is little about them presently on the site. He also sees the site as having potential for educational use, perhaps as teaching aid for local history in the schools and library.

            “It’s like a virtual Shoal Lake Historical Society,” says Dickie. Shoal Lake History can be found online at www.shoallakehistory.com

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Filed under Local History, Pioneers, Prairie People, Promotion

Little Nurses League

Reid Dickie

            In 1890s Winnipeg, if you had nine brothers and sisters, likely only five, possibly six of you would survive to adulthood. Communicable diseases encouraged by lack of hygiene caused frequent child mortality. Children routinely died of measles and typhoid. In 1904, one in seven infants died in their first year; by 1912, it was one in five.

To combat this abnormally high infant mortality rate, the Winnipeg Public Health Department was created in 1900. Efforts focused on educating mothers, many of them non-English speaking immigrants, about proper hygiene and handling of milk. In 1910 a Safe Milk Dispensary began distributing free pasteurized milk to poor new mothers. Only moderately successful, the infant mortality rate stayed high.

The Health Department developed a more aggressive education campaign distributing pamphlets in several languages on topics such as sanitation, household management and food safety. After 1912, public health institutions like the Margaret Scott Nursing Mission began conducting home visitations and instruction. Margaret Scott, founder of the Nursing Mission, read about the Little Nurses League and recognized its usefulness in Winnipeg.

The Little Nurses League, interchangeably called the Little Mothers Movement, was an international movement in the early 1900s that began in New York City and spread across the U.S., Canada and Britain. Through the Little Nurses League, nurses went into schools to teach young girls preventative measures and proper baby care.

Adopted as a permanent component of schoolwork, the Little Nurses League gave girls ten years and older specific instruction on modern aspects of childcare. At home, school age girls often cared for their younger siblings so the League employed a teaching technique that proved to be quick and effective: they used dolls as babies.

The girls became change agents, taking their new knowledge home and using it when tending their brothers and sisters. They educated their mothers, overcoming the barriers of literacy and language the nurses experienced when visiting homes. The program also advanced the socialization of a young generation of new Canadians while successfully reducing the infant mortality rate.

In 1912, the first schools to participate in the Little Nurses League were Aberdeen and Strathcona. Winnipeg School Division #1 developed a School Health Department designed to offer a range of medical services to students including physical examinations, vision testing, dental, First Aid and mental capability testing. By 1937, the Division had 14 school nurses who made 5,000 visits to schools and 15,000 to homes. The Little Nurses League that year trained 270 girls in 15 classes.

The Division’s School Health Department was integrated into the City of Winnipeg Health Department in 1941. Services to schools expanded with more staff (30 nurses by 1942), X-ray examinations and sex education.

Not only was the Little Nurses League a boon to immigrant families, it demonstrated the need for effective health care that involved the whole community equally. The League was also successful in educating people about their roles and responsibilities to their families, communities and new country.

Find more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.

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Filed under Pioneers, Winnipeg