52 Ancestors Week 19: The Nursing Sisters of Canada

Portrait of Miss Georgina Pope, head nurse of First Canadian Contingent during the Boer war. Possibly in her nurse\’s uniform from Bellevue Hospital, New York

This week\’s 52 Ancestors prompt is \”Nurture\”. So this week I decided to take a look at the Nursing Sisters in Canada\’s Military.

The Nursing Sisters have a long history in Canada. Their history stretches back to 1885, when they were first put into field hospitals during the Northwest Rebellion. They journeyed with the Royal Canadian Dragoons to the Klondike, when the unit was sent to reinforce the Northwest Mounted Police during the Gold Rush. Nursing Sisters were with Canadian troops during the Boer War, both World Wars, Korea, and Canada\’s contributions to NATO missions.

If you have a Nursing Sister in your tree, you\’ll want to look at these collections:

 Veterans Affairs Canada has a page devoted to Military Nurses. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, they have a database of Nursing Sisters who died in the line of duty in World War I and II. Listed by year, then alphabetically, each woman\’s name is a hyperlink to a memorial page. They contain a surprising amount of information. Here is a screenshot of the first death of World War I, Mary Frances Elizabeth Munro:


Not included in the screenshot is the burial information of each woman, including a link to a map of the cemetery. At the bottom of the page are digital images relating to each particular Nursing Sister. Mary Munro\’s includes a picture of Mary, her attestation paper, the newspaper clipping about her death, and a picture of her memorial plaque. The public are invited to upload images of any of the Nursing Sisters listed.

Library and Archives Canada has a whole section devoted to the Nursing Sisters. The section includes links and microfilm numbers of a variety of resources connected to the Nursing sisters.
Of special note is the section \”Biographies\”. It contains biographies of 6 Nursing Sisters, using excerpts from correspondence and diaries in their archives. There are digital images of the correspondence and diaries. There are even photographs. The women profiled are:

  1. Sophie Hoerner
  2. Dorothy Cotton
  3. Alice Isaacson
  4. Annie Ross
  5. Laura Gamble
  6. Ruby Peterkin
The LAC also has a collection of digitized war diaries from hospital units. You can access the collection by clicking here.
The Canadian Great War Project has a database of Nurses who served. This database contains over 2,000 names of women who served. Clicking on the name of a nurse gives you a chart of as much information as possible from their military files. Not all sections are complete.

The site also has an brief history of the Nursing Sisters, a list of military awards given to Nurses, and excepts from the book Our Bit : Memories of War Service By a Canadian Nursing Sister by Mabel B. Clint.
Internet Archive has several resources related to nursing sisters. A quick search brought some really interesting results:

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