Left: Merilyn Lambert (McApline) holding her recreated 1958 USask Nursing pin. Right: The treasured pin is visible in her 1958 graduation photo.

Granddaughter Remakes 1958 Nursing Pin for Grandmother

When Merilyn Lambert (McAlpine) (DNURS’58) had her nursing pin stolen, she never imagined she would receive another one years later.

When Merilyn Lambert (McApline) (DNURS’58) looks back on her time in nursing school, one of her fondest memories was receiving her graduation pin; one she wore with pride, as it signified three years of hard work and studying.

Merilyn can be seen in the second row, fourth from the right in her class photo.

Merilyn completed the three year diploma nursing program from 1955 – 1958. At the time, Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon was not completely finished and her class was only the second class to have the opportunity to move into the infamous Ellis Hall Nurses Residence.

One evening in July 2002, Merilyn’s house in Saskatoon was broken into. Along with some other gold jewelry, her treasured nursing pin was stolen. “I was completely devastated when I returned home to find my pin stolen,” says Merilyn. “It was very special to me.”  

This past fall, Merilyn was retelling the story of the break-in to her granddaughter Codie. She talked about how her late husband’s wedding ring, her parents’ jewelry and her gold nursing pin were taken and could never be replaced. “I knew as soon as she mentioned the nursing pin, I had to do something,” said Codie. “The pin was something I knew I could replicate for her.” 

Codie contacted the University of Saskatchewan (USask) College of Nursing to help her on her quest to recreate the pin. “I knew I needed to figure out what the original pin looked like without asking my grandma,” said Codie. “I reached out to the USask College of Nursing and we were able to track down her graduation photo from 1958 where she was wearing the pin in the photo! From there, I reached out to Birks to see if they could recreate it. We had to use our imagination when it came to the colour of the pin because the photo was in black and white, but it turned out amazing!”  

The pin was recreated by granddaughter, Codie, with the help of Birks.

Hoping to gift the pin to her grandmother for Christmas, Codie wasn’t able to, as it wasn’t ready in time. She decided to hold off until her birthday in June; however, the minute she received the pin in February, she knew she couldn’t wait any longer! “I gave her a card explaining that I had Birks recreate her gold nursing pin. She hadn’t even seen the pin yet when she started to cry. When she opened the Birks box and saw the pin for the first time, she was completely blown away. Grandma said, ‘No way. Oh my goodness sakes. That’s so thoughtful. It’s just so wonderful.’” 

“I am completely overwhelmed with gratitude to Codie,” said Merilyn. “It is extremely special to have the pin back and difficult to express my appreciation for her thoughtfulness and work to make this wonderful surprise gift for me!” 

Like many others this year, Codie has not been able to see her grandma very often due to COVID-19. “I know it’s been a hard year for my grandma, as she lives alone. Being able to do something nice for her has brought me a lot of happiness too. I wanted her to know I’m always thinking of her, even if we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like.”  

After graduation, Merilyn worked at Kindersley Hospital for five years, then spent ten years at Melfort Hospital. She also worked for the Heart & Stroke Foundation doing blood pressure clinics in malls and for Home Care. She worked with the non-profit Victorian Order of Nurses until she retired in 1987. 

Like many other nursing classes, Merilyn’s class of ’58 continues to stay in touch. “We have had many reunions over the years, with each decade being hosted by the University of Saskatchewan until our 50th year reunion,” said Merilyn. “In total, we’ve had 10 reunions and our last was our 60 year reunion in Victoria in 2018, where twenty-one 81 year olds celebrated with fun and laughter for three days. Sadly, we have lost six classmates over the years. There are six of us still living in Saskatoon and we get together for our birthdays and lunches.... recently on Zoom! Living in Ellis Hall together for three years was an unforgettable experience and we are all still like sisters. I can’t wait to share this incredible gift from my granddaughter Codie with all of them!”

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