Return to Menu Symbol of a Profession: One Hundred Years of Nurses' Caps

Cap - 1999.267.53 - CD2001-60-021
Toronto East General and Orthopaedic Hospital School of Nursing, Toronto, Ontario
Gloria (Barwell) Kay, Graduated 1951

Gloria (Barwell) Kay
Gloria (Barwell) Kay

Until the 1970s, trained nurses were instantly recognized by their caps. Each school and hospital had its own cap design and means of indicating the level of training. Today this symbol of knowledge and caring has all but disappeared. Gloria Kay, a retired nurse, believed that the caps should be preserved, and in 1974 began a collection of caps, which nurses all across Canada sent to her.

The caps shown here are a selection from the 167 Mrs. Kay recently donated to the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The Gloria Kay Nurses' Caps Collection is now the most comprehensive of its kind, dating from 1895 to 1983 and representing every province.

An exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, featuring 60 of the caps, will be on display from February to September, 2002. It is located in the open collections exhibit case in the corridor near the library.

Gloria Kay, RN, MScN,
February 3, 1998

Photograph courtesy of The Record, Kitchener, Ontario

Gloria Kay, RN, MScN


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