Series S08 - School of Psychiatric Nursing Records

Provincial Mental Hospital 1931 Post-Graduate Class First Graduation Class - Provincial Mental Hospital Essondale, B.C. June 1932 1933 Graduation Class and Post-Graduates - Provincial Mental Hospital, Essondale B.C. Provincial Mental Hospital Graduation Class, Essondale, B.C. - 1934 Provincial Mental Hospital Graduation Class, Essondale, B.C. - 1935 Provincial Mental Hospital Graduation Class, Essondale, B.C. - 1936 Provincial Mental Hospital Graduation Class, Essondale, B.C. - 1937 Provincial Mental Hospital Graduation Class, Essondale, B.C. - 1938

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

School of Psychiatric Nursing Records

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  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1997 - 2018 (Collection)
    Riverview Hospital Historical Society
  • 1913 - 2000 (Creation)
    British Columbia. School of Psychiatric Nursing

Physical description area

Physical description

93 cm of textual records
445 photographic negatives and prints: b&w and col.; multiple dimensions ; multiple processes
1 document attached to plywood : 76 x 88 cm

Publisher's series area

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The Canadian Journal of Psychiatric Nursing

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Psychiatric Nurses' Association of Canada

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Archival description area

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Administrative history

The British Columbia School of Psychiatric Nursing was established at East Lawn, Riverview Hospital (then the Female Chronic Unit and Essondale Hospital, respectively) in 1930. It was the first training school of its kind in B.C. When the unit opened in 1930, there was an immediate need for trained psychiatric nurses. Firstly, a six-month post-graduate course was offered to train registered nurses quickly, whereupon they became supervisors for new nurses enrolled in the course. In 1931, a nursing instructor, Miss C. A. Hicks, was appointed and the School expanded from a single course to a two-year psychiatric nursing program. The first graduates from the School received their diploma in 1932. That year, the program was extended to a three-year term which continued until 1951 when it again became a two-year program.

Because of the historical gendered beliefs held by the medical profession at the time, psychiatric nurses and students were female. With roots in Victorian viewpoints on gender, women were considered to be best equipped for nursing because they were considered to possess a moral capacity and natural compassion suited to patient care. Men were initially only considered mental hospital attendants. However in 1937 the School opened its enrollment to male psychiatric nurses.

Prior to 1951, psychiatric nursing was not a regulated profession in British Columbia and students enrolled in the program were employed as civil servants. With the establishment of the Psychiatric Nurses Act (1951) graduates were bound by standards of practice and education and were not considered civil servants until the successful completion of the program.

Riverview Hospital remained the home of the School of Psychiatric Nursing until 1972. But due to a decline in patient population, the School moved to the British Columbia Institute of Technology in and was renamed the Psychiatric Nursing program. The last class from the Riverview Hospital program graduated in 1973.

Due to Provincial budget cuts in 1984, the Psychiatric Nursing program was reduced to a one-year program and moved to Douglas College, where it remains today.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This series consists of records created and accumulated by the School of Psychiatric Nursing at Riverview Hospital. It includes administrative and financial records that informed the operation of the School, annuals (yearbooks) of each graduating class of the School, the publications accumulated from national psychiatric nursing organizations, as well as graduation and departmental photographs.

Record types in this series include manuals, reports, policies, handbooks, staff lists, event programmes and invitations, minutes, study notes, yearbooks, and publications.

Notes area

Physical condition


The series was arranged by the archivist into four subseries by content type:

SS1: Administrative and event records
SS2: Nursing annuals and reunion books
SS3: Nursing school residence and graduation photographs
SS4: Canadian Journal of Psychiatric Nursing journals

Language of material

  • English

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Some files in Subseries 1 contain personal information. See the Reference Archivist for more information.

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