Following 100 years of service, the Alumnae of the Holy Cross Hospital took on the task of immortalizing two pillars that shaped health and well-being in Calgary; the Grey Nuns who founded and led the Holy Cross Hospital for 80 years, and the 2,409 graduates from its School of Nursing.
The task culminated in the statue, Nuns and Nightingales, which holds the place of honour in front of the 1929 wing of the Holy Cross Hospital. Don and Shirley Begg from StudioWest were commissioned to do the bronze.
The statue represents a particular era. In keeping with the custom of the time, the Sisters wore the traditional habit which had been designed many years before and which is replicated in the statue. To ensure its accuracy, Don and Shirley travelled to Winnipeg to meet with a Sister who had sewn the habit and knew the intricate details of the design.
The nurse’s uniform on the statue depicts the 1950’s to early 1970’s when strict protocols dictated the style: caps, dress with standard length, bib and apron worn over the dress and footwear with military heels. To achieve the correct look, it was necessary when doing the statues to borrow shoes from the Military museum in Calgary. Pins were added to uniforms to indicate progression across the years of training such as the shield and cross that adorns the nurse’s bib.
Nuns and Nightingales stands proudly representing the many years of care and compassion to the citizens of Calgary and Southern Alberta.
Source: Alumnae Executive 2019; Holy Cross Hospital. Photo: DCCLIC, the Nuns and Nightingales statue and the Macnab wing in the background, 2019.