A History Of Caring


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. GNAO’s first president, Miss E Campbell Gordon, was Superintendent of Nursing at Kingston General Hospital.


1907 Ottawa Graduate Nurses formed an association.


1908 GNAO became incorporated under the Ontario Companies Act.


1905-1916 GNAO started production of a nursing magazine, “Canadian Nurse”, as an alumni venture. The Canadian National Association of Nurses took over its production in 1916.


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. Later, the registry moved to 4th Ave. joining the Graduate Nurses Club of Ottawa.


1915 Miss Louise Morgan took over the Registry when Miss Snow married. The Registry was located at 73 James Street (the home of Miss Morgan) until 1934. Miss Morgan was on duty 24 hours a day with occasional relief. She was paid a salary of $50 per month.


1922 Through the efforts of the Graduate Nurses’ Association of Ontario a Nurses’ Registration Act was passed by the Ontario provincial government.


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


1933 The Ottawa Graduate Nurses Association had 260 nurse members. The number of nursing students was 3214 in 67 different schools in Ontario.


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 Registry moved into the Medical Arts building on Metcalfe St paying rent of $508.56 annually.


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


1937 The Registry moved to the Albany apartments at 340 SomerSet St West. The rent was $28 per month or $336 per year.


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 Nurses Registration Act, 1951 was passed. This Act gave the Association responsibility for making regulations regarding standards of admission to schools of nursing, courses of study in these schools, setting examinations for registration, and issuing, renewing and canceling certificates of registration.


The Community Nursing Registry was a central service for the distribution of nursing and related services approved by RNAO official nursing organization in the province. Municipal law included a clause to allow grants to be made to the Ottawa Community Nursing Registry and approved by the RNAO. The 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.


Nursing Assistants were those who have been trained under RNAO or those who have on job training in hospitals. Homemaker services were started in 1951 and lasted until 1956 when they left to become the Visiting Homemakers Association.


To be a member of the Registry, all RNs had to belong to the RNAO at a cost of $10 per year.


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.


1955 The CNRO moved to a new location at MacLaren and O’Connor St to be housed in a new building built to the Registry’s specifications. The lease cost the Registry $177 per month.


Nurses (RNs) paid the registry a fee of $25 and RPNs paid $15 per year.


The homemaker service was discontinued in December 1955 as it had grown in popularity and members believed that they would function more effectively as a separate organization. Visiting Homemaker Association was officially formed in 1958.


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.


RNAO at their annual meeting a decision was made to investigate the feasibility of collective bargaining for the nursing profession in Ontario.


1959 At the Annual meeting, there was a heated discussion on single nurses versus married nurses. The Registry continued to cover off hours calls for the Doctors, Copp Labs, Picker x-rays, Red Cross and VON. Yearly fees for the Registry climbed to $32 for RNs and $21 for RNAs.


1960 RNAO, at the request of the Ontario Ministry of Health, studied the feasibility of the formation of a College of Nurses in Ontario.


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.


1965 The Registry moved to the medical building on McLeod Street. Incorporation was discussed. Fees to the public were $20éday. The service for the Registry was divided into two different areas: Answering Services and Nursing Services. Registered nursing assistants received $12.50 and then increased to $14/day. Non-registered nursing assistants received $11 and then increased to $12/day. When nurses accepted a call, they had to complete the call regardless of location or condition or they would have a penalty of a 7 day suspension from the call board.


1966 Concerns were raised about compulsory membership in RNAO. RNAO had always sponsored registries so to be eligible for membership in Registries everyone had to be a member of RNAO. Fees to the public were $22.50 per day. A request that nurses wished to wear their uniforms to work was rejected. Registry brochures became bilingual.


1974 Annual fees paid by nurses to the Registry were the equivalent of 5 days pay. Many Registries continues to close because of funding difficulties. The Ottawa Registry had 147 RNs, 36 RNAs, and 22 HCAs.


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. 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.


2013 CNRO moved to its current location on Woodward Drive from our office at 551 Cambridge Street near Dows Lake.