Joan Gilchrist

Obituary of Joan Muriel Gilchrist

GILCHRIST, Joan Muriel 
(21 June 1928 - 23 March 2020) 

Joan passed away peacefully into the arms of the Lord at Providence Manor, Kingston, Ontario. Predeceased by her parents, Archibald and Elizabeth (nee Lauder), her sisters, Mary Zimmer (Charles) and Margaret Pickett, brothers Archie (Ariel), David (Irene), and Bill (Olive), and also by her companion, Flora Moyra Allen. Survived by nieces Frances Foster,  Carol Lunt (Tony), Linda Butterworth (Warren), Suzanne Smith (Robert), Diane Boyd (Dave), nephew Robert Gilchrist (Deborah), and great nieces and nephews. 

Joan was a force of nature in the world of nursing.  She graduated high school at the early age of 16 and worked for Bell until the call of the nursing profession lured to the School of Nursing at Wellesley Hospital in Toronto, from which, as a part of the group that termed themselves "The Nifty Fifties", she graduated as an RN in 1950.  To complete the further education she now decided she needed, she graduated from McGill University with her BN in 1958, her MSc. in 1964, and continued on to doctoral work in Sociology.

After functioning as a staff nurse in Toronto, Victoria BC, and Juno, Alaska for three years, she returned to the Wellesley as Head Nurse and instructor in 1954, having taken her Diploma in Clinical Supervision.  In 1956, she became Nursing Supervisor at Mount Sinai in Toronto.  It was clear she was headed for major administrative responsibility, and, in 1959, she became Director of Nursing and Principal of the School of Nursing at Jewish General in Montreal.  In 1966, she moved into McGill University as Assistant Professor of Nursing, achieving tenure and being appointed Director of the McGill School of Nursing in 1972.  In 1979, she was promoted to the Flora Madeleine Shaw Chair as Full Professor of Nursing in 1979.  The University of Western Ontario called upon her to become Dean of the Faculty of Nursing in 1983.  She retired from that position in 1991.   She was the author of numerous academic publications.  

Her activities within the community of nursing in Canada were no less distinguished, culminating in her presidency of the Canadian Nurses Association.  She served on the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, the Canadian Nurses' Foundation, the Order of Nurses of Quebec, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, the Ontario Region Canadian Association of University Schools of Nursing.  And these are just a few of her activities.  Her contributions were just as prolific within the general academic world on various senate and other governance and advisory bodies, local, provincial, and national.

Her many awards include honorary doctorates from the University of Manitoba and The University of Western Ontario, and the Queen's Jubilee medal.

In her later years, she enjoyed the warmth of the sun in Florida during the winter months with Moyra and her beloved dachshund, Chloe Jezebel, watching golf, playing bridge, and caring for her neighbours and friends.  She enjoyed traveling abroad with Mary Davis.  Joan really knew how to have fun.  Blessed with a rich sense of humour, her ready laugh could be heard from a distance.  And it will be sorely missed.  

An enormous debt of gratitude is owed to the staff on Sydenham 5 at Providence Manor in Kingston for their exemplary care of Joan.  Also, we could not have brought her this far with out the daily personal care provided by Lily, Gail, Lucy, and for the years in Providence by Kay and Maria.  God bless them all.  The Reverend Canon Donald Davidson attended her for last rites for which we are grateful. And to those family and friends who came to visit Joan, to those who kept active track where distance was a barrier, a debt of thanks is also owed for continued presence in her life.

A memorial service for Joan will be held, we hope, on her birthday, 21 June 2020.  Notice will be provided to family and friends closer to the time.  Interment with her parents in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto will follow.  Donations in Joan's memory, in lieu of flowers, would be gratefully received by the Canadian Nurses' Association and the Alzheimer's Society of Canada.

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