Celebrating Ethel’s 100th birthday with a look back at WCH nursery’s in 1919

2019-12-09 2:47:02 PM

On December 23, Ethel Geraldine (Gerry) Brunton will be celebrating a very special milestone – her 100th birthday. And Women’s College Hospital will be celebrating right along with her.

Ethel and her late twin sister, Margaret Irene, were born at Women’s College Hospital (WCH) in 1919. At that time, WCH was located in a residential house at 125 Rusholme Road in Toronto. Nineteen women doctors and a small staff of nurses operated the hospital. Records from the Archives show that in 1919, the hospital admitted 985 inpatients and recorded over 1,100 visits to its outpatient clinic. While the majority of patients admitted to WCH as inpatients were there for surgical procedures, expectant mothers comprised the next largest category of patients.

Under the leadership of Women’s College Hospital’s Chief of Obstetrics, Dr. Rowena Hume, the bustling obstetrical department operated with two staff obstetricians, Dr. Caroline Brown and Dr. Marion Kerr. Throughout 1919, the three doctors delivered 248 babies in the hospital -- almost 100 more babies than in the previous year. This dramatic increase in births was attributed to the opening of a newly constructed four-story hospital wing in late November 1918. The addition allowed WCH to increase its capacity of inpatients to fifty adults and twenty-five babies.

This fall, the family of Ethel Geraldine contacted Women’s College Hospital’s Archives to share her special milestone. Diane Brown, daughter of the late Margaret Irene and niece of Ethel Geraldine, explained that WCH holds many special memories for their family. The two sisters would often share stories of their birth at WCH. Their favourite story had been passed down to them from their mother: she told her daughters that while she was in labour, she learned that there was another expectant mother in the maternity ward who would also be delivering twins. However, the other mother was pregnant with twin boys. In the end, Ethel Geraldine and Margaret Irene were the first set of twins to be born that day and even in their later years, both sisters were pleased to boast that they had “beat the boys.”

Women’s College Hospital Foundation extends a heartfelt ‘Happy Birthday!’ to Ethel on this very special occasion!

L:R -
Baby Geraldine (L) and Margaret (R)
Marg and Gerry on their 21st birthday
Gerry and Marg on their 80th birthday
Ethel Geraldine Brunton at her 100th birthday party