The life-long career of Sophie Ann Kettleson

A number of extended care facilities made up what was known as District 24. Its first matron was Sophie Ann Kettleson, formerly Buchanan, and she recalled a case near Bruderheim early in her career. After nursing three sick children for a month, she was paid--one cow and its calf. When the dust settled, she had paid seven dollars for trucking, had sold the cow, and ended up with four dollars and the calf. As Sophie said, "She was good beef, too."

Sophie was a real westerner, born in Fort Saskatchewan in 1909. Times were hard and everything, including their clothes, seemed to be made from flour sacks. Sophie left home in 1927 to begin her nurses' training at Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton.

Twenty years later when Sophie and her husband moved together to Edmonton, Sophie began working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Eventually, in 1964 she moved over to the Norwood Auxiliary Hospital. As Matron of a usually under-funded institution, Sophie Kettleson pulled out all the stops to look after her patients whatever their needs were--even roping her sister, Roma into giving 'cuts and perms' to the residents who couldn't get out to the beauty parlour. Roma remembers that Sophie didn't waste anything and neither, under her watchful eye, did her staff. John Gillese explains it, "The West left its influence on their generation: everyone was a neighbour. And the hard times left a legacy of resourcefulness and richness, too. What you had to do, you did. And you did it because those for whom you laboured were, or might have been, your neighbours." Wherever it came from, Sophie's care and compassion made life a lot happier for those "neighbours."

From: People and Progress by John Patrick Gillese