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Home for Three years

- excerpts taken from Nuns and Nightingales 75th Anniversary book 1982

St Gertrude's Residence, a wing of the 1907 hospital which was transplanted nearer the river in later renovations, became home to probies in the 50's. They felt ostracized in the rickety, three-storey building with its flimsy partitions between tiny rooms. Memories of St Gerts are of the steel beds and thin mattresses, scuttling of mice, ugly spiders, and chocolate cake feasts at midnight in the smoking room/kitchen.

St. Gertrudes Residence
St Gertrude's Residence

In 1920 Waterloo Hall and Forbes home, neighboring apartment building north of the hospital, were purchased and remodelled into nurses' residence. The two buildings were joined together with the addition of a large reception area, which was furnished by the Sister Superior's family.

Waterloo Nurses Apartments

In 1921, seventy-five young women moved into their new quarters, which were reputed to be the finest in the Province. The publicity report said that bedrooms, with one, two or three beds, were "air conditioned." Students who lived in the residence knew better. The only air conditioning was supplied by windows that opened from both bottom and top.

The rooms had individual lockers, wooden "coffins" on castors that were stored under the cots to hold uniforms, and clothes cupboards that served as partitions between the beds. A covered sidewalk protected nurses from the elements as they dashed back and forth to the hospital. This was Waterloo Hall that was to be home for Holy students for the next thirty-five years.

The big excitement around the residence in 1930 was an infestation, brought into the home in students' trunks and clothes. Fumigators to the rescue! Because bugs don't care for starched uniforms, they didn't spread to the hospital and the Holy's reputation was spared.

In 1931, an addition increased capacity of Waterloo Hall by twenty-two beds.

Mrs Swingle was housemother until lights out, when another conveniently deaf Sister slept in the residence as official chaperone.

By the mid-'50's, Waterloo Hall had become decrepit. The only ghost of its former glory was its still-intimidating reception room. Students were allowed to paint their rooms in the soon-to-be demolished Waterloo. Colors chosen ranged from Kelly green to ebony-technicolor proof that the Sisters had been wise to stick with a neutral beige all those years.

The class of 1960 was the only one to live in all three Holy Cross residence - St Gertrude's Waterloo Hall, and the residence which opened in 1957.

The basement and first floor of the new 8 storey, $1.5 million residence held lecture rooms, demonstration rooms, labs, faculty offices, beaux rooms for visitors, a chapel and auditorium. Nuns quarters were on the seventh floor.

New Nurses Residence

New Nurses Residence, 1957

A tradition was broken in 1978 when the Holy Cross had its first male student graduate. This called for a few adjustments in the residence rules. A second male student graduated with the last class in 1979.

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