Nurses' Memorial

Municipality/Province: Ottawa, ON

Memorial Number: 35059-255

Type: Sculpture

Address: 111 Wellington Street

Location: Parliament Hill, Centre Block, Hall of Honour

GPS Coordinates: Lat: 45.4253638   Long: -75.6998201

In the years immediately following the Armistice of 1918, Canadian Nursing Association provincial affiliates pondered how best to remember their fallen sisters. Local nursing groups raised $32,000. The national memorial committee negotiated space in Centre Block, on Parliament Hill and commissioned designs. The advisory committee included Toronto architect Frank Darling (an assessors to the Canadian Battlefields. Memorials Commission), artists Lawren Harris and James Hervey MacDonald selected sculptor George William Hill, R.C.A., of Montreal.

Mr. Hill worked in Italy where he 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 and unveiled August 24, 1926.

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).

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."

For more information visit Parliament of Canada.

 

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Inscription found on memorial

[plaque]


ERECTED BY THE NURSES OF CANADA IN REMEMBRANCE OF THEIR SISTERS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR, NINETEEN FOURTEEN-EIGHTEEN, AND TO PERPETUATE A NOBLE TRADITION IN THE RELATIONS OF THE OLD WORLD AND THE NEW.

LED BY THE SPIRIT OF HUMANITY ACROSS THE SEAS WOMAN BY HER TENDER MINISTRATIONS TO THOSE IN NEED HAS GIVEN TO THE WORLD THE EXAMPLE OF AN HEROIC SERVICE EMBRACING THREE CENTURIES OF CANADIAN HISTORY.

Érigée par les infirmières du Canada en souvenir de leurs sœurs qui ont donné leur vie au cours de la Grande Guerre de 1914-1918 et pour perpétuer une noble tradition dans les relations entre l'ancien monde et le nouveau. Guidée au-delà des mers par un sentiment d'humanité, la femme, par les soins qu'elle a prodigués à ceux qui étaient dans le besoin, a donné au monde l'exemple d'un dévouement héroïque embrassant trois siècles d'histoire canadienne.

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