• A total of 3,141 Canadian nurses volunteered their services during the Great War of 1914-1918. At first, the army medical units were set up in hospitals away from the action. Eventually, however, Casualty Clearing Stations were set up, close to the front lines. It was at these stations that the ambulances would deliver the injured who, received early stage assessment and, as a result, obtained quicker and more effective treatment.
• During the First World War, 46 Nursing Sisters gave their lives: six were killed or mortally wounded (of which three died in the deliberate bombing of the military hospital in Étaples, France); 15 died at sea, with the sinking of the hospital ship, Llandovery Castle; 15 died of disease; and seven died back home, in Canada.
• During the Second World War, Canada's nursing service was expanded to all three branches of the military -- the Navy, the Army and the Air Force -- with each branch having its own distinctive uniform and working dress, while all wore the white veil.
• At total of 4,473 Nursing Sisters served during the Second World War, many of whom found themselves within range of enemy guns. At first, almost all field hospital units were set up under canvas tents, many of which later would move to bombed-out or abandoned buildings.
• During the Battle of the Atlantic, Canada had two navyhospital ships, the Letitia and the Lady Nelson, both of which were staffed by army Sisters. The navy Sisters served on naval bases on both coasts of Canada.
• The nursing service of the Royal Canadian Air Force was not established until November of 1940. With over 100 station hospitals having been constructed, the demand for additional Nursing Sisters increased. Some were trained in air evacuation, 12 served in Newfoundland flying air-sea rescue missions, and 66 went overseas.
• During the Second World War, the nursing service also included four special branches: the Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Dieticians and Home Sisters. In addition, there were Sisters who served on the hospital trains that returned the wounded to destinations across Canada.
The Nursing Sisters' Memorial
The Nursing Sisters' Memorial is located in the Hall of Honour in the centre block on Parliament Hill. The sculptor was Mr. G.W. Hill, R.C.A., of Montréal. The sculptor did his work in Italy, and found a beautiful piece of marble from the Carara quarries. The completed panel was mounted in the Hall of Honour during the summer of 1926.
In the Programme of the Unveiling Ceremony of the Canadian Nurses' Memorial, the artist interprets the sculptured panel:
The design for the sculptured panel embraces the history of the nurses of Canada from the earliest days to the First World War. The right-hand side of the bas-relief represents the contribution made by the religious sisters who came to Canada from France during l'ancien régime, and depicts a sister nursing a sick Indian child while an Iroquois warrior looks on suspiciously. To the left a group of two nursing sisters in uniform tending a wounded soldier symbolizes the courage and self-sacrifice of the Canadian nurses who served in the war. In the centre stands the draped figure of "Humanity" with outstretched arms. In her left hand she holds the caduceus, the emblem of healing; with the other hand she indicates the courage and devotion of nurses through the ages. In the background, "History" holds the book of records containing the deeds of heroism and sacrifice of Canadian nurses through almost three centuries of faithful service.
Eight hundred nurses from across Canada had assembled in Ottawa that week, for the thirteenth general meeting of the Canadian Nurses' Association.
In a preliminary ceremony on Parliament Hill, in front of the centre block, the President of the Association, Miss Jean Browne, presented the memorial to the acting Prime Minister, Sir Henry Drayton, who accepted it in the name of the people of Canada. Dame Maud McCarthy, the wartime Matron-in-Chief, British troops in France and Flanders, addressed the assembly.
She was followed by Matron-in-Chief Margaret Macdonald, who read the roll of honour containing the names of thirty-nine matrons and nursing sisters of the Canadian Army Medical Corps Nursing Service and eight others who had been seconded to Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve, or who had service with the American Army Nurse Corps.
After the observance of two minutes of silence the Canadian nursing sisters and the invited guests on the platform moved indoors to the Hall of Honour, where Miss Macdonald unveiled the memorial panel. There followed the sounding of the last post. The poignantly familiar notes of the bugle echoing through the corridors of the Parliament building must have recalled to the silent sisters the passing not only of loved comrades in the nursing service but of many a soldier patient so seriously wounded that all the care they could give him had not been enough to save his life. The singing of the national anthem brought the moving ceremony to a close. -- from the "Report of the Unveiling Ceremony of the Memorial to the Canadian Nursing Sisters", The Canadian Nurse (October 1926)
Canadian Nurses Roll of Honour
ALPAUGH, Agnes Estelle,
ALPORT (Roberts), Jean Ogilvie
BAKER, Miriam Eastman
BAKER, Margaret Elisa,
BALDWIN, Dorothy Mary Yarwood
CUMMING, Isobel Katherine,
DAGG, Ainslie St. Clair
DAVIS, Lena A.
DONALDSON (Petty), Gertrude,
DOUGLAS, Carola Josephine,
DUSSAULT, Alexina, CAMC
FOLLETTE, Minnie Asenath,
FORNERI, Agnes Florien
FORTESCUE, Margaret Jane,
FRASER, Margaret Marjory,
GALLAHER, Minnie Katherine,
GARBUTT Sarah Ellen
GRANT, Grace Mabel,
GREEN, Matilda Ethel,
GREEN, Caroline Graham,
HANNA, Bessie Maud,
HENNAN, Victoria Belle
HUNT, Myrtle Margaret
JAGGARD, Jessie Brown,
JARVIS, Jessie Agnes,
JENNER, Lenna Mae,
KEALY, Ida Lilian,
KING, Jessie Nelson,
MACLEOD, Margaret Christine,
MCDIARMID, Jessie Mabel
MACDONALD, Katherine Maud
MACEACHEN, Rebecca Helen,
McGINNIS, Mary Geraldine,
MCKAY, Evelyn Verrall
MCKENZIE, Mary Agnes,
MCLEAN, Rena, R.R.C.
MACPHERSON, Agnes, R.R.C.
MUNRO, Mary Frances E.,
NOURSE, Grace E. Boyd,
PRINGLE, Eden Lyal,
ROGERS, Nellie Grace,
ROSS, Ada Janet,
ROSS, Elsie Gertrude,
SAMPSON, Mary Belle,
SARE, Gladys Irene
STAMERS, Anna Irene,
TRUSDALE, Alice L.,
TUPPER, Addie Allen (Adruenna), Royal Red Cross (RRC)
TWIST, Dorothy Pearson
WAKE, Gladys Maude Mary,
WHITELY, Anna Elizabeth,
1939 - 1945
Lt. BELL, Marion Elizabeth, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corp (RCAMC)
FO MACLEOD, Jessie Margaret, RCAF
Lt.(N/S) SPAFFORD, Frances Winnifred, RCAMC
Nstr. WILKIE, Agnes Wightman, RCN
Lt. (N/S) ASHLEY, Ruth Louise, RCAMC
Lt(N/S) POLGREEN, Francis Eunice, RCAMC
FO (N/S) WESTGATE, Marion Mercedes, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)
Lt.(N/S) (Occupational therapist) MCLAREN, Mary Susannah, RCAMC
Lt.(N/S) PETERS, Nora Hendry, RCAMC
Lt.(N/S) BRIGGS, Margaret Agnes, RCAMC
Lt.(N/S) COOPER, Frances Ellen, RCAMC
Lt.(N/S) FITZGERALD, Gladys Helen, RCAMC
Lt.(N/S) MACDONALD, Vera Catherine, RCAMC
Lt.(N/S) DUSSIO, Marie Cecile, RCAMC
Lt.(N/S) GANNON, Frances Eileen, RCAMC
Matron ENRIGHT, Nellie Josephine, RCAF