Commemorating Canadian Nurse Casualties During and after the First World War

Nurses’ perspective 1

Authored by: Dianne Dodd

Routledge Handbook on the Global History of Nursing

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415594271
eBook ISBN: 9780203488515
Adobe ISBN: 9781135049751


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The First World War looms large in Canadian national consciousness, not least because of the staggering death toll of over 66,000 in a country of less than 8 million people. Canada became a nation in 1867, through an act of the British Parliament that brought together several British North American colonies that had long resisted the pull of the American republic to their south, including what would become the predominantly French-Catholic province of Quebec. Joining the defense of the motherland in August 1914, Canadian troops played a decisive role in the Great War, earning Canada a prominent place in the British Empire and forging a new identity as a truly autonomous nation – a colony no more. 2 During this five-year trial by fire which ended in November 1918, over 3,000 Canadian nurses, whose official title was Nursing Sister and who entered the military with the relative rank of second lieutenant, served in the Canadian Army Medical Corp (CAMC), caring for the sick and wounded. 3 More than 60 of them died, 21 as a result of enemy action. This chapter examines the ways in which this first generation of Canada’s military nurses were remembered, and forgotten, in the great outpouring of memorializing in postwar Canada.

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