Myra Bennett: The Florence Nightingale of northern Newfoundland.
Myra Bennett (née Grimsley) was a nurse responsible for 200 miles of coast of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, Canada. Along that isolated stretch of Newfoundland’s coast she was the only medical assistance for many people.
Myra was originally born in England but was recruited to live and work in Newfoundland by a scheme created by the British colonial department. She was installed in Daniel’s Harbour, where she married an ex-merchant and moved into a house he built. Daniel’s Harbour was an isolated community with no roads or railway connecting to connect it the outside world. A coastal steamer operated as a means to transport people and goods but only in good weather. The nearest hospital was several hundred miles north, established by the Grenfell Mission, in St. Anthony.
Nurse Bennett is estimated to have delivered 5,000 babies and extracted 3,000 teeth. In 1926 when her brother-in-law, Alex, slipped and fell into the teeth of a lumber saw and almost severed his foot. After cleaning up the wound Bennett proceeded to stitch the severed foot back onto the leg and did such a good job that he kept his foot.
Bennett is the subject of “Don’t Have Your Baby in the Dory” by H. Gordon Green; a Reader’s Digest article; and a CBC documentary, “Lady of the Lonely Places”.
She was King George V Silver Jubilee Medal, Member of the Order of the British Empire, King George VI Coronation Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, Member of the Order of Canada, and Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, Memorial University of Newfoundland but most people in Newfoundland, Canada, and Great Britain will have never heard of this amazing woman.
Sources: here, here, here, and here.