Victorian Order of Nurses for Canada is a national, nonprofit, community-health organization that provides nursing care in the home, particularly for the elderly and chronically ill. In Canada during the late 1890s, nurses, doctors and hospitals were desperately needed in remote areas and in rapidly growing towns and cities. Organized by Lady Aberdeen in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, the initial aims of the order were to provide visiting nursing services to districts without access to medical facilities and to establish cottage hospitals in isolated areas. The VON established 44 such hospitals in local communities and within isolated areas throughout Canada. Responsibility for running these institutions was gradually assumed by community groups, with the last VON-run hospital being placed in the hands of local citizens in 1924. Since then the functions of the VON have evolved in response to changes in Canadian society and new home-nursing needs. More recent initiatives include home-based palliative care, adult day programs, footcare clinics, respite care, primary health care clinics and health services in shelters for women, children and youth at risk.
Over 8700 VON health care providers and 15000 volunteers provide services to over 1 million Canadians each year, most of whom are over the age of 65. Volunteer boards of local citizens jointly operate the 67 local branches to ensure that the mix of services is based on the unique and specific needs of the community. Fees paid through provincial government health-care insurance provide the main source of funding in most provinces, and additional revenue is obtained from local governments and the United Way.