|Mrs Wilkinson, son Lorne, Dr Steve Wilkinson|
Mrs. Elsie Wilkinson did her work as school nurse "so quietly" that many did not realize her "supreme importance" in the community.
"With perfect organization she operates so smoothly and efficiently that many hardly realize her presence. A system that does a marvellous task with one bit of self advertising, is functioning daily in our midst," J.M. Shoup, principal of Chapleau Public School, wrote in his In the School Column in the Chapleau Post in 1948.
Elsie McKinnon arrived in Chapleau in 1915 to become Matron at the Lady Minto Hospital which had opened in 1914.
She married Dr. Steve Wilkinson, and after he died she became nurse at the public school, Chapleau High School and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School for many years. She made the rounds each week during the school year.
I remember Mrs. Wilkinson well as she was a great friend of Lil (Mulligan) Morris, my grandmother, and she often visited at my grandparents' home on Elgin Street. I also caddied for her, Mrs. George Fife and my grandmother when they played a round on Ladies' Day at the golf course. I think I carried one club.
My cousin, Michael McMullen recalls that he earned his "first real money" from Mrs. Wilkinson when he mowed the lawn at her home on Beech Street for 25 cents each time. That was about 1953.
In his column 'In the Schools' Mr. Shoup noted that such vast improvements in student health are observed that one almost fears to report for fear of one be too hasty arriving at decisions and then having to wait anxiously with fingers crossed if disease strikes.
|Lady Minto Hospital|
Epidemics, which took their toll in the early years of Chapleau had largely been eliminated by 1948. Mrs. Wilkinson had her records and every child was "religiously vaccinated, inoculated and T.B. patch tested with a x-ray follow-up when necessary."
Every school pupil was regularly weighed and height taken and progressive records kept, the article said, adding that the growing child whose weight remains stationary or drops is at once the concern of the nurse and family doctor.
"Cod liver or Vitamin tablets, on the nurse's recommendation are supplied by the Red Cross and a smooth distribution is carried out so that no one is missed."
School attendance had improved marvellously by 1948, due apparently to better student health. Many rooms ran for days with a perfect attendance.
Under Mrs. Wilkinson's direction, the system was so efficient that the big task was to check carefully the new arrival of student.
She was prepared for emergencies and as part of her duties often visited an absent sick child at home and when necessary called in the doctor.
"School nurse, with parental and school co-operation give a healthier, sounder generation - prevent many illnesses from even starting, and give more alert minds because of better health.
"The most valuable cog in the health machinery is the School Nurse", Mr. Shoup wrote.
My thanks to Bev (Yanta) and Ken Leclaire for sending me a copy of the Chapleau Post. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org