Description of Historic Place
La Corne Nursing Station National Historic Site of Canada is located in La Corne, in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of Québec. It was built in 1940 and comprises two wooden buildings painted in white, the dispensary-residence, a two-storey building with a front veranda, and a garage. A summer kitchen is located at the south-west corner of the premises. The nursing station has a rear courtyard where the tree line marks the western limit of the property. The nursing station has also retained its furniture and houses an ethnological collection directly associated with the site’s history. The official recognition refers to the nursing station’s legal property.
The La Corne Nursing Station was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2004 because:
- it is the best extant example of the network of dispensary-residences established by the Service médical aux colons;
- it symbolizes the contribution of several hundred outpost nurses to the implementation of public health policies and the development of rural social life;
- it represents the support of outpost nurses to the colonization of rural Quebec.
The La Corne Nursing Station is one of the best preserved of the network of 174 nursing stations created in Québec between 1932 and 1975. For 50 years, from 1940 to 1990, the same nurse, Gertrude Duchemin, who retired in 1976, lived at the La Corne Nursing Station. Her long residence in the building helped to preserve the site’s integrity and enabled the conservation of the furniture as well as an ethnological collection directly associated with the site’s history. Because of its physical integrity, the La Corne Nursing Station is an excellent example of a nursing station residence built in Québec and implemented in newly colonized regions by the Service médical aux colons (SMC) during the Great Depression. Three models of nursing station residences were built. The La Corne Nursing Station was built in the years 1930-1949 according to the first model, which was also the most common, and is comprised of a two-storey wooden building with an attached garage and an adjacent summer kitchen.
The nursing station also symbolizes the contribution of the network created by the SMC to the development of healthcare services in Québec’s remote areas. These nursing stations contributed to the genesis of the socio-sanitary infrastructure of many rural regions in Québec and nurses played a key role. The nursing station served both as the nurse’s workplace and residence consisting of a nurse's office, waiting room, kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedrooms on the second floor, hence the term “dispensary-residence.” Nevertheless, nurses had to travel great distances to serve the settlers. They took on many responsibilities, including promoting public health, monitoring the outbreak of contagious diseases, caring for the poor, delivering babies, and extracting teeth.
The La Corne Nursing Station illustrates the fundamental role played by these nursing stations in the development of communities and in the colonization process of the Abitibi region. Nurses like Gertrude Duchemin played an essential role in the development of Québec’s regions, particularly in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, July 2003.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- its location on a main road, next to the church and the cemetery;
- the visible remains representing the nursing station architecture of the first model, including its wood construction, two storeys, veranda, garage annex and adjacent summer kitchen;
- the interior evidence reflecting the 1940-1976 period when the house was a dispensary, such as the original floor plan and intact finishing, and particularly the original arrangement of private and professional spaces, such as the waiting room, the nurse’s office, the consulting room, the equipment, the counter and the series of cabinets;
- the ethnological collection, which demonstrates the nurse’s role in the social development of remote communities and the promotion of health policies of the period such as reference books and work instruments.