Longtime Banffite Irene Martin’s middle name should be “help” because even after being a nurse for 30 years, she continues to find ways to take care of people. Retiring from the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital in 1996, Irene has been active in the Banff Seniors Society and in community initiatives like the “We Live In A Postcard” book since finishing her career. From bear maulings to hypothermia, what Irene saw at the hospital ran the gamut, especially during her 20 years as head nurse of emergency and medicine. She was also a part of the team who opened the Long Term Care Unit, known as St. Martha’s Place.
“I’ve always wanted to help people,” Irene says, “so it was wonderful to be a part of the hospital for so many years.”
And now a part of the Banff Seniors Society, she has served as the board secretary for 12 years, organizing the fitness programs and hosting the senior’s teas.
“Irene is very friendly and helpful, she has never met a stranger,” says friend and fellow society member Betty Hagen. “She welcomes and talks to any newcomers who come to the senior’s teas and makes them feel comfortable.”
Irene is also a member of the Mount Temple IODE in Banff, where she works at most of their events and served as club secretary. Irene makes quilts for chemotherapy patients at the Canmore General Hospital and is known for giving seniors car rides to meetings, doctor’s appointments, and around Alberta and B.C. for day trips.
Originally from Bowden, Alberta, Irene first came to Banff in 1955 to work at the Quaker Coffee Shop as a soda jerk for the summer. During this time and at the age of 15, Irene also met her late husband, Jerry Martin. She then permanently moved to Banff in 1966, where she has lived for the past 50 years, contributing to community as a nurse and now as a volunteer and friend.
“Irene is such a caring person and she cares about everybody,” Hagen says. “She’s always looking to help everybody and anybody, and she never wants any thanks or attention for it doing it.”