Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

Alumni Spotlight: Barbara (Gilbert) Covington

Bloomberg Nursing alumni do extraordinary things in the communities in which they work and live, and we take great pride in the work they do. To date, there are nearly 6,000 Bloomberg Nursing alumni, all of whom have made or continue to make a positive impact in the world of nursing. Barbara (Gilbert) Covington is one such alumna.

Barbara & classmates at Alumni Reunion 2018

Name: Barbara (Gilbert) Covington

Current town/city: Westmount Quebec

Year of Graduation: 1953

Interests, activities, clubs and professional organizations:

McGill Community for Lifelong Learning, both as participant and as moderator of study groups, and lecturer.

Westmount Historical Association (volunteer archivist for 10 years after retirement)

Montreal Knitting Guild( lecturing, and organizing and teaching a workshop on various techniques); Contactivity Seniors Centre;

What was the most valuable lesson-inside or outside the classroom-you learned as a student U of T: 

The value of teamwork

Greatest Professional accomplishment:

After graduation, I worked in hospital nursing for about two years.  I then married, and raised a family of three boys, a “personal accomplishment”. When my youngest son was 10 years old I enrolled in the Library Studies program at Concordia University, and after graduation took the position of Nurses Librarian at the Montreal General Hospital.  There I was able to turn a recreational reading library for resident nurses into a professional information resource for the MGH nursing staff, floor nurses and administration, head nurses and teaching nurses. With the dawn of the computer age in libraries the Nurses Library served as a teaching tool for basic computer skills and online searching.

Favourite Nursing professor:

Miss Kathleen Russell, founder and director; Miss Jean Wilson and Miss Jeanette Watson, Instructors

What is/was your favorite thing about nursing?

Working with people.


In September 1948 my classmates and I entered the five-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at U of T. This was an innovative program for training nurses at the university level, unique in this period, designed by Miss Kathleen Russell our founder and director.  There were 15 of us, all 18 year-olds, the required age to enter nurses training, except for one who was a World War II veteran.

Those of us from out of town, about half, lived in residence in an old semi-detached house on Grenville Street opposite the Women’s College Hospital.  The house had been opened up at the ground level, and there were two “parlours” at the front of each house where you could entertain guests. The rest of the house was bedrooms, 3 girls to a room and the basement snug which we called “The Bassinette” where we could read, relax, gossip and do our washing with a wringer washing machine We went to the School proper at Queen’s Park for meals and classes.  In our third year, everyone moved into residence at Queen’s Park, in single rooms, taking our meals in the dining room and enjoying the lovely lounge, using the small library and classrooms.  Our clinical rotations took us around the city to various hospitals, TGH, Sick Kids, Women’s College, Toronto Psychiatric, Weston Sanitorium, and for community nursing with the Victorian Order of Nurses and the Toronto Public Health Department. I remember years 3-5 as an enjoyable but intense learning experience.

But what I remember most was the wonderful bonding between classmates which made us more than friends, we were sisters.  We have attended every 5-year alumni reunion since graduation, and this year 5 of the 15, all of us in our 88th year, were able to attend our 65th reunion on June 2nd at the Faculty Club, which is a testament to our bonding of 70 years.

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