Kate Brighty Colley, Pioneer Nurse and Author

Nurses heading out on their rounds. Kate is the driver.

Who knew the Spirit River area was so rich with writers?  Here is yet another pioneer woman who had a pen in her hand, this time Public Health Nurse (later superintendent of Public Health Nurses) Kate Brighty Colley.  Her book is called “While Rivers Flow”.

In the early 1900s all of Alberta was frontier land where the bison still roamed, the mud was more than a force of nature, and a nurse’s rounds might involve transporting patients hundreds of kilometres in a “caboose” pulled by horses.  Kate Brighty Colley recorded how it feels to be licked awake by a bison.  She has an account of sliding down Dunvegan hill on the mud track in the pouring rain, knowing it would be impossible to get up the other side anyway.  She stayed at Dunvegan and noted that the windows in the buildings, shipped from the east in molasses barrels, seemed to have arrived in one piece.

She has an easy writing style, straightforward and clear with a twist of wry humour.  Chapter titles like “The Legend of the Mit-A-Win”, “Wanham and a Mission with Goosekeeper”, and “A Lovely Corpse” are quite intriguing.

If you want to know why Kate was compared to a corpse or what to do when a harness breaks at the bottom of the Bad Heart Valley, you’ll have to read “While Rivers Flow” for yourself.  It’s available here.  You’ll be wishing this book was a bit longer!

Do you know an author from Spirit River or area?  Give Town Spirit a tip!  Please comment!

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2 Responses to Kate Brighty Colley, Pioneer Nurse and Author

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am reading While Rivers Flow for the second time, with a more mature spirit. I was first given this book by my father when I was 13, the year my great grandmother, Kate Brighty Colley, passed at the age of 103. I was completely in awe of her adventures, still am, but I am now able to pick up on the clear magnitude of the strength this incredible woman had.
    Thank you for posting this wonderful article and picture,
    Angelique Colley Venne

    • townspirit says:

      It’s great to hear from a descendent of Kate Brighty Colley! What a wonderful connection you have to her in her writing and adventures. Thank you very much for your comment.

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