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Directors of Nursing

Sister St. Elizabeth 1919-1926

Sister Saint Elizabeth, founder of the Lorrain School of Nursing graduated from the Youville Training School of the Ottawa General Hospital in 1911. She became Director of Nursing at the Pembroke General hospital in 1914. She founded the Lorrain School and became its first director in 1916.Her first term in this position lasted until 1926 and a second term was from 1941 - 1956. In the years between, she was at the General Hospital in Sault Ste, Marie, on general duty from 1926 to 1928 and Director of nursing from 1928 – 1939.

Always an active supporter of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, she was appointed to the RNAO Board of examiners in 1924 to prepare and correct examinations in anatomy and physiology.
In 1954, she organized the Pembroke branch of the Catholic Nurses; Association of Canada.

Sister Elizabeth continued to advance the cause of her profession until she retired in 1961. The early part of her retirement was spent visiting hospitalized patients. Sister died on March 3,1968 in Pembroke, Ontario.


Sister Mary Brigid 1926

In 1926, Lorrain benefitted in having as one of its early directors Sister Mary Brigid.

Sister’s first mission, after making profession was Superintendent of Nurse at the General Hospital which office she fulfilled with vigilant devotion.   During most of her active life, Sister was involved in the Nursing field – working in many parts of Canada.

Ill health forced Sister to retire in 1954 and to return to Pembroke but is well remembered as one who diligently attended the sick

Sister Mary Brigid died on November 19, 1956 in Pembroke, Ontario.


Sister St. Desmond 1929-1938

Sister St. Desmond was Director at Lorrain in 1929. During her period as Director she initiated many advancements in curriculum- particularly affiliation with other agencies and hospitals in Ottawa.

Looking back fondly, Sister remarked that nursing was very different during that period. The nursing students worked in the clinical area six and a half days a week with one hour of class per day.

Sister recalled residence life at this time. The students’ recreation was rather limited and she indicated that the dining get-togethers she planned along with the purchase of a radio for the residence contributed to the good time had.
Sister St. Desmond was very active in many areas in Pembroke, in a home for transients in British Columbia and in the infirmary of Assumption College.

She died on December 27, 1987 at Pembroke, ON.


Sister Mary Florence 1938-1944

In addition to performing her administrative tasks, Sister also became a familiar figure in the classroom maintaining a direct contact with her students through her classroom teaching.

She is well remembered for her advancements of nursing education in many areas during this period.

They include evaluating students’ experience in the hospital, initiating self-evaluations and recording clinical hours. Besides her work in education, Sister undertook the revival of the school’s alumni.

Sister Mary Florence died on October 14, 1986 in Pembroke, ON.


Sister Madeline Brownrigg (Sister St. Cuthbert)
1948-1956, 1958-1961

One of ten children, Sister Madeline was born in Fournier, Ontario, on September 30TH, 1917.

Following graduation from Teacher’s College in Ottawa in 1937, she entered the Grey Sisters’ Community in Pembroke, on September 15TH, 1938.
Sister Madeline’s primary ministry involved serving in the Health Care Profession, having graduated as an R.N. from the Pembroke General Hospital in 1945.

Subsequently, she moved on to earn a Nursing Teachers’ certificate from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Assumption College, Windsor, Ontario, as well as a Master’s Degree in Nursing from the Catholic University, Washington D.C

For thirteen years Sr. Madeline was involved in teaching nursing students at the Lorrain School of Nursing in Pembroke.

In 1967, a missionary calling led her to Consuelo, in the Dominican Republic, where she served for the next four years.

Continuing with her ministry in Canada, Sister Madeline worked in various health care centres for the next 30 years including the Sault Ste. Marie General, the Penatanguishene General, St. Anthony’s Hospital
in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan and at Youville Residence, Vancouver B.C
She retired to the Motherhouse in Pembroke, on September 9TH, 1999. Due to failing health, Sister Madeline transferred to Shalom Residence, Pembroke, on December 18TH, 2003.

She died in Pembroke, Ontario on the 14TH day of May, 2007, in the 67TH year of her Religious Life.


Sister Rena Spooner (Sister Mary Rena)
1956-1958, 1961-1967

Born in Buckingham, Quebec, on May 8th, 1923, she entered the Community on September 17th, 1949, pronouncing final vows on August 24th, 1954.
A graduate of the Ottawa Civic Hospital, Sister Rena continued her ministry in the Health Care Profession, serving in various areas and positions including, The General Hospital, Sault Ste. Marie, The Pembroke General, where she served as Director of the School of Nursing, and at the Penetanguishene General.
Other assignments involved St. Patrick's Home as Coordinator of the Accreditation Program, and later as Administrative Assistant.

As Director of Nursing.  In her position as Director at Lorrain, Sister was instrumental in the planning of the new school and moving it to the new location in 1961. One of the more significant curriculum changes which she oversaw was the implementation of the 2+1 programme. In retirement she volunteered on the Community of Ottawa Program for Seniors for a period of thirteen years.

Sister Mary Rena  died in Pembroke on the 24th day of August, 2011 in the 62nd year of her Religious Life


Sister Rita Kehoe (Sister Mary Claudia)

One of eleven children, Rita Catherine Kehoe was born in West Templeton Quebec in 1928 and entered the Grey Sisters in Pembroke in 1944. A graduate of the Lorrain Nursing programme in 1953, she filled a number of supervisory and administrative functions moving from hospital administration, Directors of Nursing in several communities to becoming Director of Lorrain School of Nursing in 1966. Although her previous background was in hospital administration and not nursing education, she made a wonderful transition and accepted the challenge with her usual enthusiasm.

Lorrain benefited and grew under her guidance. Her competence, dedication and foresight nurtured the fulfillment of many changes in nursing education.

She oversaw the implementation of the “2+1” programme followed by the “2 Year” programme.

She was a member of the Task Force on Nursing that facilitated the smooth transition of Lorrain into its present structure with Algonquin College.

She has B.Sc in Nursing from the University of Ottawa and an M.A. in Theological Studies from Regis College in Toronto.

In addition to her service in Pembroke, she has served the Grey Sisters in so many capacities throughout Ontario, various communities in Saskatchewan. Vancouver, the North West Territories, Ottawa and Arnprior.

In 2004, Sister Rita celebrated her Diamond Jubilee- 60 years of service to her God and her congregation.

Retiring in 2007 from her last assignment at St. Patrick’s Home, she continues to live in Ottawa but visits Pembroke periodically.