Stories of Early Occupational Therapists in Newfoundland and Labrador


This project is part of the Occupational Therapy History Archive Project, an initiative of the Newfoundland and Labrador Occupational Therapy Association (

Included here are the stories of five pioneer occupational therapists who worked in Newfoundland and Labrador from 1900-1960, as well as 20 audio interviews from a sample of occupational therapists who worked in Newfoundland and Labrador from 1960-2022.

The stories of the pioneer occupational therapists are based on information from historical documents, family members, and occupational therapists who were interviewed for this project.

The audio interview participants completed a pre interview questionnaire to gather information on the participant's professional education, work history, memories of early practice and career highlights. The questionnaire was used to develop 3 specific questions for each interview. The interviews are audio recorded, not edited, and 15-20 minutes long. Copies of the pre interview questionnaire accompany the audio interview.

The interviews reflect the therapists' memories and chronicles the development of the profession, highlighting the many early achievements and challenges of a predominantly female profession, providing a significant addition to our professional heritage. Some of the highlights include the establishment of the NLAOT and the Newfoundland and Labrador Occupational Therapy Board (NLOTB), the regional expansion and growth of the profession from 4 occupational therapists in 1960 to 243 in 2023, repeated efforts to include an Occupational Therapy program at Memorial University, the establishment of a regional School of Occupational Therapy at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia and occupational therapy assistant distance education program at the College of the North Atlantic.

Looking back on our early history provides an opportunity to understand the human resource, cultural, geographic and economic issues that shaped the profession's early beginnings and consider factors that shape occupational therapy practice today.

Chronological List of Occupational Therapists

Jessie Luther 1905 – 1916 (Grenfell Mission)

Annie Baikie Watts 1928-1932 (Grenfell Mission)

Ramsey Murray 1945 – 1958 (Merchant Navy Hospital, Orthopedic Hospital)

Elizabeth (Betty) Jamieson Baird Eaton 1947 (Orthopedic Hospital)

Pat MacLeod 1956 – 1968 (Hospital for Mental Health and Diseases, Sunshine Camp, Children's Rehabilitation Centre)

Rose Ann Hatchett 1967-1973 (Hospital for Mental Health and Diseases).

Joanne Porter 1967-2011 (Children's Rehabilitation Centre; Pat MacLeod; Home Care; Special Assistance Program, Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Occupational Therapists).

Patricia Leader 1969-1999 (Pat MacLeod; Grace Hospital; Occupational Therapists).

Wendy Lee 1971-2002 (Children's Rehabilitation Centre; rural practice).

Brenda Head 1973-2012 (Children's Rehabilitation Centre; Health Science Centre; Dalhousie School of Occupational Therapy).

Paula Bouchier 1975-2005 (St. Clare's Hospital; Waterford Hospital; Injury Prevention Program).

Gaye Walsh 1977-1995 (General Hospital; Waterford Hospital; Association of Allied Health Professionals).

Madeline Marrie 1978-1992 (St. Clare's Hospital; Carbonear General Hospital; rural practice).

Scarlet Hann 1980-2013 (St. Clare's Hospital; Waterford Hospital; community mental health).

Lucy Miller 1984-2022 * (Children's Rehabilitation Centre; Occupational Therapist Assistant Program).

Mary Manojlovich 1986-2014 (General Hospital/Health Care Corporation of St. John's/Eastern Health; program management; professional practice leadership).

Margie Collingwood 1987-2022 * (School of Occupational Therapy at Dalhousie; Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital and Western Memorial Regional Hospital and Eastern Health; professional association roles).

Sandy Delaney 1987-2022 (Pediatric acute care occupational therapy practice in St. John's; Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).

Sharon Horan 1987-2022 * (St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital; General Hospital; Fit for Work)

Maire NicNiocaill 1987-2022 (Home Care; Community Care; preceptoring students).

Aruna Ralhan 1987-2019 (coming from India/England to Newfoundland to practice; Clarenville Hospital; Vocational Rehabilitation; Injury Prevention).

Dianne Bouwman 1988-2022 * (Children's Rehabilitation Centre; Development and Learning; Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; mentoring).

Jane Simmons 1989-2022 * (Private practice; OT Atlantic).

Terri Walters 1989-2022 (Dalhousie School of Occupational Therapy; occupational therapy in west coast of Newfoundland).

Jodi Clarke 1996-2022 * (Annie Baikie Watts; practice in Labrador).

* Informants still practicing at time of interview