Graduation Ceremonies

The culmination of three years of hard work was celebrated with an elaborate graduation ceremony.  Depending on the year, it frequently was a weekend long affair.

A formal dance with long gowns and tiaras was de rigueur for the graduating class.

The dance site was always decorated by the first year students and the planning for a theme began far in advance.

Special guests were mainly the physicians and their spouses from the hospital and normally the class president, her date and a physician and spouse chosen by the graduating class formed the receiving line.

Although all of the gowns were white, they were far removed from the staid and prim tradional uniform.  Below is a class photograph of the 1969 graduates before going to meet their dates for the formal.

This photo pictures the 1970 graduates just before their formal dance.

THE RECEPTION / Tea and Mass
Saturday of the graduation weekend was the time for the families of the graduates to join them for a class mass and a reception  or tea for parents. Hosted by the Grey Nuns, it was a lovely gesture by the Sisters to recognize the occasion.

Guests and relatives from far and wide were invited to the ceremony - often held on the Sunday and presided over by the Bishop of Pembroke at the time.

Parading into the hall or auditorium accompanied by Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, there was a mile of wide smiles on both graduates and their parents. Dressed in their first white uniform and carrying a bouquet of roses, the world was introduced to the excited new nurses.

The graduates sat on the stage. Faculty sat in the first row of seats.  Below is a picture of a pre-1960’s Lorrain graduation ceremony – (year unknown)

Seen below is a 1968 graduation class picture. Treena (Lang) Lemay is the valedictorian.

Diplomas were handed out by the presiding Bishop and congratulations offered.  3 Graduates look over their diplomas outside the residence building on Deacon Street. 

Following receipt of the diploma, the graduates received their graduation pin form a faculty member.

Nurse graduation ceremonies have been marked by several notable traditions. Some continue to this day, most notably the "pinning" of the graduate to mark her entry into the ranks of professional nurses .

The pin was often a gift of the parents or grandparents and was a symbol of everyone’s gratitude that the special day had finally arrived .In some schools, graduates often dedicated their pin to someone who had a special influence on their decision to enter nursing or otherwise served as a mentor.

Similarly, some schools allowed students the  option to select a family member or friend to do the “ pinning” during the ceremony.

1967 Graduates – Joanne Plebon, Brenda Murphy, Margaret Keough and Ann Howard admire their pins after receiving them during graduation.

One of a various form of a pledge was frequently recited by the entire class of graduates at some point during the ceremony.

The specific pledge depended on the school. Below are three versions of it.

Florence Nightengale Pledge

I solemnly pledge myself before God and the presence of this assembly;
To pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully.

I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.

I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care


Jeanne Mance Pledge
Canada’s First Lay Nurse.  1606-1673

That I may be strengthened in my resolve to model my life of duty after that of Jeanne Mance, the first lay nurse of my beloved Canada.

I place myself in the presence of God and pledge myself, with the help of His Grace, to be faithful to the following ideals:

I will be true to the practise of religion, which is the inspiration of my noble vocation
And while administering to the body, will serve the soul, by observing the principles of right ethics and nursing honour,

I will be devoted to the profession that is mine, by obeying the physician within the sphere of his authority,

And I will make my work a labor of love rather than profit, whenever the service of God or country requires it of me.


Nurse's Pledge

I place myself in the presence of God and I pledge myself with the help of His Grace to be faithful to the following ideals:

I will be true to the practice of religion which teaches me to respect the personal dignity of man and to base my work in love, thus while administering to the body to serve the soul.

I will be devoted to the practice of nursing which is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to a peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength.

As a Nurse, I will work in cooperation with and maintain harmonious relationships with other members of the health team.

I will achieve my happiness by striving for the happiness of others entrusted to my care.

At each graduation ceremony, awards and prizes were given to graduates to celebrate academic and clinical achievement. Below are photos of graduates who received such awards.
L-R – 1966 - Joanne Sloan from Deep River was the recipient of the Lorrain gold medal for highest academic achievement while Sheila Griffith of Pembroke received the cash award for best bedside nurse.
Looking happy and justifiably proud of their gold medals are these three 1960 graduates. Gisele Gervais received recognition for highest standing in pediatric and obstetrical nursing and won the prize for loyalty. Carol Platt was voted the best operating room nurse and Carol Cuthbert merited the award for general proficiency in nursing. Other winners were Joy Gillissie who tied with Carol Platt for honours in operating room nursing. Judy Ross who was unanimously declared the best bedside nurse and Beth Lemire who received a gold medal for efficiency in Medical-Surgical Nursing
Below are prize winners from the class of 1957.