One Hundred Years of Psychiatric Nursing Education in Manitoba by
Beverley Clare Williams Hicks
Politics, Personalities and Persistence, written by RPNF Director Dr. Beverley Hicks tells the story of the evolution of registered psychiatric nursing in the province of Manitoba. This comprehensive account traces the distinct profession’s transition from the asylums of Manitoba, where for seventy years psychiatric nurses had cared for the mentally ill when few others were interested in them, to the halls of academia in Brandon University in 1986, the first university in Canada to grant a baccalaureate degree to psychiatric nurses. Contact us at
for more information and to order.  A portion of proceeds from the book will be donated to the RPNF Inc.
Joyce Surowich Newsletter Editor
March 2022
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! Present and former SMHC staff members are invited to join our committee. We meet monthly within the Administration Building in the afternoon from September to May. However, due to Covid-19 all in-person meetings are temporarily suspended. Also, due to the presence of old absetos linings found within the archive rooms all artifacts have been removed and stored until the necessary repairs are completed. Once everything is back to “normal” then tours of the Archives can re-commence. The complete inventory that was to be carried out by the committee has been delayed due to the pandemic restrictions.
An interesting insight into the training of Bertha Kwitoski, nee Kellar’s experience as a student nurse at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre in the late 1930’ to early 1940s.  Click here to read. Bertha Kwitoski, nee Kellar in 1940 at SMHC A Woman with 99 Lives . . .  For teenager Maria Lee, a good day meant scavenging a few morsels of food, a coouple sips of water and not being killed.  Arphaned at birth in the Soviet Union, she found herself on a train to Germany during the Nazi invasion at the start of World war II.  Eventually she made her way to England where she trained as an SRN (general nurse).  Some years later she embarked for Canada and trained to be a psychiatric nurse at SMHC graduating in 1954.  Click to read Gwenda Vander Bogert has written a book that is available on Amazon titled: “She made Tulip Bulb Soup”.  The book is a collection of stories of four ordinary couples who made extraordinary leaps of faith to overcome adversity and provide possibilities for generations to come..  SMHC is referred to within the story as an important element.  Click to read Gwenda
Please send any information, news or photos to Joyce
Another historic site has been demolished at SMHC.  B Unit which opened in 1926 and closed in 1972.
The Importance of Archives . . . Dr. Larry C Mackie Some question the need to hold onto relics of the past. They ask: “What does it matter?” Well, let me explain the importance. The mission of the archives is to support the history of Selkirk Mental Health Centre in the preservation of the working papers, correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and histories of prominent individuals, associations, and organizations, both historical and contemporary, who are important in the mental health field, and in making these valuable, unique primary resources available to researchers. Our manuscripts, oral records, clippings, yearbooks and web site document the evolution of the mental hospital and its contribution to the fields of mental health care within the Province of Manitoba. Archives are witnesses to the past. They provide evidence, explanation and justification both for past actions and current decisions. Archives and records are the tools by which organizations can make themselves accountable and demonstrate their democratic credentials. Well-managed archives and records are the means by which we can understand the who, when, where, how and why of organizational actions. They enable the delivery of human rights and the ability to explain and defend the growth and development of psychiatric care. We need to study the past in order to help develop the future! Hopefully this will give some explanation as to why the Archive Committee deligently work to preserve records covering the past 140 plus years of the evolution of mental health care within not only SMHC but also within the Province of Manitoba. We need your support to continue with this endeavour. We are pleased to have joined the International Council of Archives. This organization support archival practices with excellent online education programs and has liasion with over 1900 members in over 190 countries. Check out the ICA BLOG!
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