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They have smashed down the Agnes Cowan Hostel, erected to provide accommodation for hospital patients and others from out of St. John’s who need a roof over their heads when attending the Health Sciences Centre.
It was built to supply a need and has been demolished to make way for a new need, the new psychiatry hospital. In the process they have smashed the memorial to Agnes Cowan, the matron (head nurse) of the General Hospital from 1865 to 1893. From the age of 15, Agnes worked with her sister, Janet, who was head nurse at the Riverhead hospital. Both sisters had learned their profession on the job at a time when nursing was a dangerous occupation.
Janet died at the age of 46, Agnes at 53. Both enjoyed the highest reputation for their work. Their name was commemorated in the Cowan Ward of the old General Hospital, and more recently in the Agnes Cowan Hostel.
What now? These days it seems to be the fashion to destroy old memorials. Surely the memorial to the Cowans should be replaced.
Ian S. Wishart