From the Grey Nuns to the streets: a critical history of outreach nursing in Canada

This article traces the historic antecedents of outreach nursing in Canada, going as far back as the Grey Nuns in what is now Quebec. It attempts to place modern-day street nursing in a historical context, which includes Nightingale, Wald, the early Victorian Order of Nurses, and the social reform movements of the early 20th century. The article critiques the involvement of nursing in less than virtuous aspects of social control with respect to impoverished and otherwise marginalized groups. The article goes on to trace the origins of modern Canadian street nursing in three cities: Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. It uses both a search of the nursing literature and, because much of this history is undocumented, oral history and anecdotal information as well. It critiques nursing's traditional avoidance of political action and calls upon modern-day nurses to support and educate one another to engage in this work.

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Public health nursing
Toronto, ON, Canada