Our History

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Before large for-profit and non-profit nursing organizations existed, CNRO was there. Formed in 1910 as a non-profit membership organization of graduate nurses, CNRO has been providing nursing care to individuals, physicians, dentists and hospitals for over 100 years.

In 1910, the Community Nursing Registry of Ottawa (CNRO), known then as the Graduate Nursing Organization, was one of several nursing registries throughout Canada. Regrettably, the CNRO is the only nursing registry still in existence in Canada. The history of the CNRO provides us with a unique insight into the evolution of nursing, in general, and in Ottawa and the surrounding areas, in particular.

Although there is scant documentation about the CNRO in the early days, we do know that its members rose to the challenge of two world wars, the Depression, and political, economic, and social changes.

Early Days of Nursing: At the turn of the century, much of nursing was carried out in the home, usually on a live-in basis, with the nurse catching sleep when she could.  Maternity cases seem to have been the most common in the setting with the contagious diseases being managed in isolation hospitals.  As well, in the early years, Registry members were the main source of staff for the hospitals in the region.

Married vs. Single: In 1956 there were discussions on single nurses versus married nurses and who would get the calls. Up until this time the married nurses only received calls once all of the single nurses had received work. Nurses with more than 8 years of service were given priority for calls. In 1959 the topic was brought up again at the Annual meeting. There was a heated discussion on single nurses versus married nurses. In 1961 the issue was settled.  A 5 day work week was established and married RNs shared equal status with other RNS for a trial period of 3 months.

Male Nurses Welcomed: In 1984, the first male nurse joined the registry.

Charity Status: In 1987, CNRO became a registered charitable organization, representing one of the remaining 5 registries in Ontario. We believe we became the only remaining registry in Ontario in 2000.

Centennial and Beyond: In 2010, We celebrated our 100th anniversary with a big party at the Hampton Inn. CNRO is very proud of our accomplishments during the past century, and we anticipate that the next century will bring great excitement and also great challenges in the health care delivery system.

 Key Milestones in CNRO’s History

1904 The alumni of various schools of nursing in Ontario formed the Graduate Nurses’ Association of Ontario (GNAO) forerunner of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), The mandate of both groups was to encourage the professional development of nurses.

1907 Ottawa Graduate Nurses formed an association.

1910 The Ottawa Graduate Nurses Association opened its central registry and new home under the direction of Miss Lena Snow, at 555 Somerset Street. The new home provided off duty nurses with congenial surroundings. The central registry provided a quick means to obtain a nurse.

1915 Miss Louise Morgan took over the Registry when Miss Snow married. Miss Morgan was on duty 24 hours a day with occasional relief. She was paid a salary of $50 per month.

1925 The GNAO’s name was changed under the Ontario Companies Act to the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).

1934 RNAO was instrumental in developing standards for nursing education and practice, and subsequently closed 37 small schools of nursing in Ontario that did not meet their requirements. The association protected the title “Registered Nurse” by making registration mandatory for use.

The VON started using the Registry’s answering service at a cost of $20 per month.

1942 The Registry was reorganized under the RNAO and called the Ottawa Community Nursing Registry with the mandate to provide nurses to the Ottawa Hospitals, make appointments for the Red Cross Blood Donor Clinics and provide after hour coverage for the VON.

1947 The Ottawa Community Nursing Registry was one of 24 registries in Ontario directed and guided by the RNAO. All Registry members were required to be members of the RNAO. The Nursing Assistants were now required to be licensed and the Nurses Act of 1947 was legislated.

1951 The Community Nursing Registry continued to cover calls for Doctors, VON, St Elizabeth Visiting Nursing Association, Red Cross and Home Makers.

Nurses could deduct the following from their income tax – hypodermic needles, instruments, rubber gloves, any equipment used to carry on their nursing services, laundry bills and a cost of $0.35 for meals.

1954 Membership included 354 RNs, 4 Graduate Nurses. 159 RNAs, and 55 Housekeepers. The RN was paid $10/ for an 8 hour shift and $9.50 for a home case.

1956 Discussions on single nurses versus married nurses and who would get the calls. Up until this time the married nurses only received calls once all of the single nurses had received work. Nurses with more than 8 years of service were given priority for calls.

1961 A 5 day work week was established and married RNs shared equal status with other RNS for a trial period of 3 months.

1962 There were 20 nursing registries throughout Ontario. The Ottawa Community Nursing Registry had 256 RNs and 91 RNAs.

1963 The Nurses Act, 1961-62, proclaimed in January 1963, established the College of Nurses of Ontario. With this change in legislation, registration became the responsibility of the College rather than RNAO. Membership in RNAO was at an all time high of 32,000 members.

1975 On February 28, 1975, The Community Nursing Registry of Ottawa became a Corporation.

1984 The first male nurse joined the Registry.

1987 CNRO became a registered charitable organization in 1987 representing one of the remaining 5 registries in Ontario.

1989 Ontario established Regional Home Care Programs. The Ottawa Community Nursing Registry was the agency of choice for this program. Investments were doing very well and the Registry was prospering.

1990-1999 The 90s saw changes with health care delivery systems and challenges for the Registry and our membership

2000 We believe that we are now the only Registry in Ontario.

2010 CNRO celebrates our 100th anniversary with a big party at the Hampton Inn and the Senate of Canada. CNRO is very proud of our accomplishments during the past century, and we anticipate that the next century will bring great excitement and also great challenges in the health care delivery system.