Helen Griffith Wylie McArthur



Life and Work

Helen McArthur was Canada's Florence Nightingale. In fact, she won an award by that name in 1957, the highest international nursing award that the Red Cross can bestow. It was given in recognition of her 25 years as national director of nursing.

With a bachelor's of science in public health nursing degree from the University of Alberta in 1934 and a master's degree in supervision and teaching from Columbia University, Helen became director of the School of Nursing, University of Alberta. Then she was head of public health nursing for the province for three years. She joined the Canadian Red Cross Society and served in Korea rebuilding the infrastructure of public health. Onward and upward she went, chairing a nursing advisory committee in Geneva, Switzerland and serving on an International Council of Nurses. Back in Canada, she was president of the Canadian Nurses' Association and the Ontario College of Nurses.

No wonder the University of Alberta gave Stettler-born Helen an honorary degree in 1964. She was one of their own. And no wonder the powers-that-be appointed her an officer of the Order of Canada in 1971. She married Dr. William Watson in 1971.