North Bay Adventure – Eleanor (Harris) Pask – Class of 1959
As part of the 100th Anniversary of the Alumnae celebrations, graduates were encouraged to reflect on their time at HSC and send along a memorable experience. Ellie wrote the following:
“Miss Masten is the only reason I was able to complete nurse training. My home was in North Bay and when I came to Toronto I left home for the first time. I also had to leave my dog, Peter. In my second year, Peter became very ill and we knew he would not survive. At the time I was working in the O.R. on the night shift. My grandmother knew how much I loved and missed Peter. She bought me an Air Canada ticket that would allow me to go home on the 9:00 AM flight and return on the 9:00 PM flight. That way I would arrive in time for the night shift.
About 4:00 PM in North Bay, (after I had spent the day with Peter) an ice storm started. All flights were grounded. The only other way out was the bus. I got on the 5:00 PM bus and 2 hours later we were in Burke’s Falls – 50 miles south. The roads were dreadful. With a feeling of dread I realized that I was not going to be in the O.R. for 11:15 PM. I called one of my friends who was working evenings. Mary had worked in the O.R. but she still had her black stockings. She agreed to fill in for me.
We arrived in Toronto at about 1:30 AM. I raced to the residence and, of course, could not get in. I then raced to the hospital and found only one door open – finally. I raced to the O.R. and Mary was scrubbed in. I replaced her towards the end of the case.
The next morning at 7:00 I was told to report to the Nursing Office. Miss Gibson was there and did not acknowledge my presence. She said to the secretary, “I have to see Miss Masten about the other person in the room”. That comment, I felt, spelled doom. I met with Miss Masten and told her the entire story. She listened and seemed sympathetic. She asked about Peter and said she understood and she added, “But don’t tell Miss Gibson”. Then I returned to the residence. I figured my career in nursing was over.
I reported at the O.R. for the next night shift and life seemed to carry on. Two days later at 7:15 I was told to report to the Nursing Office again. The process was the same – my presence not acknowledged, etc and then I was called in to see Miss Masten. She asked me about Peter and I told her that he had died the night I came back. She said she was very sorry. Then she said that she loved dogs too and she would have done exactly what I had done. But then with a twinkle in her eye she said “but don’t tell Miss Gibson I said that”.