Treasures of Jasper: Edith Gourley | The star
What is a Jasper treasure? Well, Edith Gourley’s story will help us find out what a real Jasper treasure is.
Gourley is the youngest of four children in her family, born in 1925 in Grande Prairie and raised on a farm in Clairmont.
Gourley’s father was an Englishman and his mother a WWI war bride from Le Havre, France.
“I loved the farm, although it was sometimes difficult not to have friends nearby,” she said.
Until grade 8, when Gourley went to high school in Grande Prairie, she attended a one-class school.
“My walk to school was a mile, but I had shoes on, and it was only uphill one way,” she said.
At the age of 18, Gourley left home to become a nurse.
“I always wanted to be a nurse,” she says.
Gourley entered the nursing program at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton and graduated from the program in 1947.
After graduation, she went on to nurse at Royal Alex.
While living in Edmonton, Gourley met her husband, George Gourley.
Edith and George met in Edmonton in 1947 and married in 1948.
George grew up in Jasper and Harry Newman was his stepfather.
Newman ran the butcher’s shop where the Totem ski shop is now located.
George was called Junior Newman by all locals; he only took his real name when he joined the Air Force in 1941.
Edith and George had three children in Edmonton, two boys and a girl.
In 1957, they moved to Grande Prairie and had another daughter in 1960.
Gourley moved to Jasper in 1967.
For ten years, Gourley worked as a registered nurse at the Seton-Jasper Healthcare Center.
She worked on the night shift two evenings a week.
“I really got to know the people of Jasper while working there and I met a lot of knowledgeable and caring people,” she said.
Gourley said it was impossible to list all of her colleagues, but it was a privilege to work with Marg Sand, Sheila Vuksanovich, Dr Betkowski and Sister Marie Anthony.
In 1977, Gourley left the hospital and became Jasper’s public health nurse.
“In this capacity, I have met a whole new generation of Jasperites – parents and children,” she said.
Gourley added that she felt lucky to be mentored by Olga Dowling and to be able to work with Ellen Kowaluk.
“I had some difficulty with future dads who wanted me to reschedule prenatal classes so they didn’t miss the Stanley Cup playoffs, but I won and maybe gave them a little lesson on the priorities.
In 1987 Gourley retired and she and George decided to start traveling regularly.
The two traveled together until 1994, when George died.
Gourley then began traveling with her friend Glenda Cornforth and her daughters.
Gourley has set foot on every continent except Antarctica.
Throughout his time in Jasper, Gourley participated in a Thursday hiking group. The group has done many day hikes that Jasper has to offer.
Gourley’s favorite part of life in Jasper was the easy accessibility of the outdoors and activities such as hiking, skiing, gardening and curling.
Gourley left Jasper in 2007 to be closer to his family. She currently resides in Kamloops.
“Jasper was a lot smaller when we moved here, so now I’m noticing all the new accommodations. I wonder where everyone lived in the 60s and 70s. It was a strong and involved community when we got here, and it was pretty much the same when we left.
“If I had family here, I would definitely come back,” she added.