Description of Historic Place
The Mona Wilson Building is a grey shingled two storey building situated in a tree lined lot in a residential area of Charlottetown at 61 McGill Avenue. It was originally constructed as a health facility (nurses' residence) and currently houses the offices of Community Mental Health Services. The registration includes the footprint of the building.
This building is associated with the cultural/social history of PEI and is an excellent surviving example of public health architecture in PEI from the 1930s. It was registered because of its association with the history of the nursing profession in PEI and the fight against tuberculosis (TB) and later polio. The current structure was originally constructed in 1938 as the nurses' residence to accompany the 48 bed sanitorium constructed in 1931 to fight the scourge of TB in PEI. The sanitorium building has since been demolished. In 1999, extensive renovations were made to the Mona Wilson Building to bring the building up to modern construction codes.
The building has architectural elements common to public health architecture of its time. These include the Colonial Revival style of its exterior mouldings including the Palladian window in the second storey of the south wing.
Mona Gordon Wilson (1894-1981) was a registered nurse and pioneer of public health in PEI. Beginning in 1923, she laboured for close to forty years of her life largely in rural PEI, where the Island's isolation and relative poverty presented many public health challenges. Appointed by the Red Cross, she came to her task on the Island with a wealth of experience, including work during World War I in Russia and the Balkans while with the American Red Cross. She was a graduate of Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in Baltimore, Maryland and the University of Toronto's Department of Public Health Nursing. During World War II, she worked with the Red Cross in Newfoundland.
She was the recipient of numerous medals and awards including: the Florence Nightingale medal, the Order of the British Empire, as well as service awards from the American, Canadian, and Italian Red Cross.
Retiring in 1961, Mona was later presented to Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, when she visited PEI during Canada's Centennial year, in July 1967. Mona can be seen wearing her various medals of achievement in a candid photo taken at the time.
In 1997, Prof. Doug Baldwin published an inspiring biography of Mona entitled: "She Answered Every Call," (Indigo Press, 1997).
Sources: PEI Heritage Advisory Committee Files
The following character-defining elements embody the heritage value of the building:
- The 2 storey symmetrical front elevation with large palladian window on second floor placed over a curved portico entrance with one vertical sash window on either side of the portico on the ground floor
- side elevations have double bay windows on the first and second floors
- the various wings of the building
- the wood shingle cladding
- the mouldings of the exterior facade
- the gable roofs
- the location of the building on landscaped grounds