The First Education Programs

"In 1918 the Public Welfare Commission of Manitoba invited Dr. Charles Clarke and Dr. Clarence Hincks of the Toronto Psychiatric Hospital to study the provincial asylums.  The Toronto doctors were critical of mental health care in Canada generally but the Manitoba asylums were singled out for their particularly poor conditions." They recommended sweeping reforms. "The report also singled out for particular comment the lack of trained nurses."   " ...  increasing knowledge and research into the human nervous system and mind, the casualties of the First World Was, public opinion, a report which highlighted abuse and moral decay in the asylums, and the lack of trained nurses, not only ushered in a new era of psychiatry in Manitoba, they also laid the foundation for the initiation of psychiatric nursing in the province." "Between 1920 and 1960, the three institutions in Manitoba which cared for persons who were mentally ill or intellectually handicapped ran training schools for psychiatric nurses."

Establishing a National Group

"In 1949, Wilf Pritchard, the chairman of the British Columbia Association of Psychiatric Nurses wrote to Bill Vowles, the president of the Saskatchewan Psychiatric Nurses Association ..."  about starting an association. "These two men had both taken a leadership role in establishing psychiatric nursing associations and legislation in their own provinces. In British Columbia meetings about the formation of an association had taken place in May 1946. Wilf Pritchard was the organizer and first president of this group which was registered under the Societies Act in September 1947. This differed from Saskatchewan where a bill was passed to enact legislation in 1948.  In 1950, Alberta joined British Columbia and Saskatchewan in forming an association of psychiatric nurses.  It is recorded that in March 1950 the graduate staff of the two provincial mental hospitals met ....." and  "... drew up articles and bylaws and called themselves the Alberta Psychiatric Nurses Association.  On May 1, 1950, the Association was officially registered under the Societies Act."  The first formal meeting of these associations was in 1951 and resulted in the formation of the Canadian Council of Psychiatric Nurses (CCPN). Once legislation was obtained for psychiatric nurses in Manitoba in 1960, the four provincial associations formed the CCPN.

(Paraphrased and/or cited from "From Barnyards to Bedsides to Books and Beyond: The Evolution and Professionalization of Registered Psychiatric Nursing in Manitoba, 1955-1980 by Beverley Clare Hicks.)

The CCPN evolved into the Psychiatric Nurses Association of Canada and later to the Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada (RPNC). In 2014, the RPNC Board changed the name to Registered Psychiatric Nurse Regulators of Canada to better reflect the organization’s mandate.