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Sister Margaret Smith

Sister Margaret Smith Order of Canada

Submitted by:  St. Joseph’s Foundation of Thunder Bay

Name:Sister Margaret Smith

Date of Birth: October 8, 1921

Date of Death: July 19, 2015

Accomplishments related to: Health, Addictions

Major Affiliations:  St. Joseph’s Heritage, St. Joseph’s Care Group, St. Joseph’s Foundation, Sister’s of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie

Sister Margaret was born on October 8th, 1921, in Woodlawn, Ontario.  She was the second child of sixteen children.  Following completion of her secondary school education, Margaret embarked upon a nursing career entering the Ottawa Civic programme in 1940 graduating in 1943.  A year later Margaret entered the Sisters of St. Joseph July 16, 1944.  Following her novitiate, Margaret journeyed to Thunder Bay where in 1947, she was appointed Director of Nursing Service and Education for St. Joseph’s Hospital.  Eight years later, in 1955, Margaret was transferred to the Sudbury General Hospital of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to become Administrator, where she spent three years before she returned to Thunder Bay.  Margaret served in Administration for 10 years.  It was here that Margaret introduced several new programs to the hospital and was responsible for replacing the original site with a brand new facility and modern School of Nursing.  Alcoholic treatment, a previously unknown program to hospitals, was introduced by Margaret for the first time in an Ontario facility and became the model for future care in hospitals sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph.  In 1973 Margaret was recognized for the establishment of the first publicly funded hospital treatment programme, for alcohol and drug dependent persons.

Margaret served as Assistant General Superior and as Councillor for her congregations from 1968-1978.  In 1974 she accepted the position of Administrator of St. Joseph’s General Hosptial, North Bay, a position she held until her formal retirement in 1987.  During this period Sister Margaret and the Board of Directors worked diligently to enhance services for the citizens of North Bay.  This was achieved in collaboration with her peers at the North Bay Civic Hospital.  Despite numerous challenges at the local and provincial levels, their endeavours resulted in the establishment of the North Bay Regional Health Centre.

Throughout Margaret’s career, she served on many local, provincial and national committees and boards such as the establishment of the Lakehead Regional School of Nursing, Chair of the Catholic Health Associaiton of Canada, Chair of the Canadian Council on Hospital Accreditation, Member of The Board of Directors of the Ontario Hospital Association, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and Council to the Ontario Council on Health, named to Premier Bob Rae’s Council on Health, Well Being and Social Justice for Ontario and Member of the Order of Canada 2007.  The Catholic Health Association of Canada performance citation award clearly outlines Sister Margaret’s contribution as a leader in Health Care in a Christian Contest – “exemplary leadership of a national effort at building up the Christian Community an unselfish dedication as a person for others”.

Following retirement Margaret enjoyed a well deserved sabbatical at the School of Applied Theology in Berkeley, California.  In 1988 Margaret was asked to be the Executive Director of St. Joseph’s Heritage, Bethammi Nursing Home, the P.R. Cook Apartments and the Frank Murphy Community Center for seniors in Thunder Bay, a position she led for four years.  Margaret returned to North Bay in 1992 where she resided with her sisters at St. Joseph’s Motherhouse.

Sister Margaret will be remembered as a woman of vision, common sense, courage, collaboration and wonderful sense of humour.  Her love of community and family empowered her to bring witness of healing and God’s great love to all those with whom she came in contact, especially the wounded and marginalized in our society. 

Sister Margaret Smith Grand Opening ribbon cutting