green dr marten shoes Myra Bennett was Newfoundland’s

Most of these nurses were trained in England or the United States and came to province to practice for a few years before returning home. A small number decided to remain, however. One of these went on to become a legend in her time.

Myra Maud Grimsley was born in London, England, on April 1, 1890, the second of nine children of Patty Ellen Crapper and Stephen Alexander Grimsley.

She attended London County Council schools, but left at age 14, having completed her course of study, to work in a tailor’s shop. At 20, she enrolled in a nurse’s training program at a hospital near Manchester.

To cover the cost of her training, Grimsley worked as a district nurse at the railway junction town of Woking, in Surrey, from 1911 to 1915. She then enrolled in a six month course in maternity nursing at Woolwich, where she earned the prestigious and much coveted Central Midwives’ Board certificate.

A three month trial placement as a case worker in North London was followed by a three year stint as full time case worker in that area. Aware of the need for nurses in Canada, she planned to spend several years in Saskatchewan under the auspices of the Overseas Nursing Association. In preparation for this move she completed courses in midwifery and anesthesia at the Clapham School of Midwifery.

While awaiting her assignment in Canada, she was approached by Lady Constance Harris, wife of the Governor of Newfoundland, who was in England recruiting nurses on behalf of the Outport Nursing Scheme, a forerunner of the Newfoundland Outport Nursing and Industrial Association (NONIA).

Harris alerted Grimsley to the desperate need for nurses in the isolated communities of coastal Newfoundland and convinced her to venture there instead.

RELATED: History is her story, too

Most of these nurses were trained in England or the United States and came to province to practice for a few years before returning home. A small number decided to remain, however. One of these went on to become a legend in her time.

Myra Maud Grimsley was born in London, England, on April 1, 1890, the second of nine children of Patty Ellen Crapper and Stephen Alexander Grimsley.

She attended London County Council schools, but left at age 14, having completed her course of study, to work in a tailor’s shop. At 20, she enrolled in a nurse’s training program at a hospital near Manchester.

To cover the cost of her training, Grimsley worked as a district nurse at the railway junction town of Woking, in Surrey, from 1911 to 1915. She then enrolled in a six month course in maternity nursing at Woolwich, where she earned the prestigious and much coveted Central Midwives’ Board certificate.

A three month trial placement as a case worker in North London was followed by a three year stint as full time case worker in that area. Aware of the need for nurses in Canada, she planned to spend several years in Saskatchewan under the auspices of the Overseas Nursing Association. In preparation for this move she completed courses in midwifery and anesthesia at the Clapham School of Midwifery.

While awaiting her assignment in Canada, she was approached by Lady Constance Harris, wife of the Governor of Newfoundland,
kids dr martens Myra Bennett was Newfoundland's
who was in England recruiting nurses on behalf of the Outport Nursing Scheme, a forerunner of the Newfoundland Outport Nursing and Industrial Association (NONIA).

Harris alerted Grimsley to the desperate need for nurses in the isolated communities of coastal Newfoundland and convinced her to venture there instead.

RELATED: History is her story, too

Myra with other nurses on the voyage from England in April, 1921Grimsley accepted Harris’s offer of a two year contract at $1,000 per year. She was sent to Daniel’s Harbour on the western side of the Great Northern Peninsula where she became the only formally trained nurse available to the many hundreds of people who lived in the scattered communities along that rugged 200 mile coastline.

Nurse Myra Grimsley in 1915Arriving in Daniel’s Harbour on May 27, 1921, Grimsley spent the next eight months as a boarder with the Moss family. Her duties went far beyond the traditional responsibilities of an English midwife: counselling expectant mothers, delivering babies and providing post partum advice. In addition to dealing with complications that might arise during delivery, she was also expected to suture wounds, set broken bones, extract teeth, treat communicable diseases and provide much needed information on health care and nutrition.

For this work her clinic, dispensary, operating and delivery rooms were located in the houses of the people she cared for. In order to visit some of her patients, she often had to travel many miles by foot, by horse and slide, or by small boat, sometimes in the dead of winter, in all winds and weathers. She gave little thought to her own safety when there was a sick or injured person waiting for her at the end of her journey.

During her first year in Daniel’s Harbour, Grimsley met and fell in love with local merchant and fisherman, Angus Bennett. They were married Jan. 26, 1922. Shortly after their marriage they moved into a newly constructed house that Angus had built, where her kitchen would serve as her clinic for the next two decades.

Now as Myra Bennett, her two year contract ended in 1923, but as a married woman, she was not offered a renewal.

Women were expected to leave the workforce once they married, regardless of how desperately their services were needed. And with her marriage to Angus Bennett, it was common knowledge that she would be settling in Daniel’s Harbour, so why pay a trained nurse when there was one already in residence in the community.

This fact her status as a permanent resident of Daniel’s Harbour just might have influenced decisions made by officials in St. John’s. No nurse was sent to Daniel’s Harbour to replace Bennett when her contract expired. NONIA, which had come into being the previous year, established a nursing station at Port Saunders, 30 miles up the coast from Daniel’s Harbour, instead. It was not until the Commission of Government took office in 1934 that she returned to the government payroll, albeit in a part time capacity, as a public health nurse.

During that time she was asked by government to provide midwifery training to a number of local women. She developed strong working relationships with doctors at the hospitals in St. Anthony, Norris Point and Port Saunders,
kids dr martens Myra Bennett was Newfoundland's
doctors who came to depend on her as part of the medical establishment along the coast.