Esther Naden Gardom was an alumna of the first graduating class of the new baccalaureate degree program at UBC. She had always wanted to be a nurse and, despite serious objections from her parents, she registered for the nursing program in her second year of study at UBC. Although scheduled to graduate in 1923, her completion was postponed as her mother had taken gravely ill. Thus, she graduated the following year with the class of 1924.
As a newly minted public health nurse, Esther went on to run the Moss Clinic in Saanich. The Model A Ford she drove on visits to her patients during those years leads to several amusing recollections. Due to the car’s inability to function in reverse gear, she was often forced to drive in circles to manoeuvre in and out of situations. On one occasion, it became necessary to deliver a baby in that same car; she tucked the infant close to her chest to keep it warm until she was able to reach the intended destination.
Esther was described by her daughter, Marguerite Lawson of Victoria, as a “tough bird” who loved the work of public health. However, under the conditions of the day, she was unable to continue the work after marriage because she had an employed husband. However, she assumed a role in the community as the person who was always called on for any type of health-related assistance. Esther became the matriarch of a large and vibrant clan. One of her nephews, Garde Gardom, rose to prominence as the 26th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Before her death, Esther contributed to the oral history, which has become part of the collection of the BC History of Nursing Society.
Material provided by the BC History of Nursing Society archives