Each nurse has a story.
Matron Margaret Heggie Smith is remembered in three Ottawa venues:
- In St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, there is a plaque in her memory (above) and her name is on the memorial window
- The Bytown Museum displays her photo and medals (some seen above, RCC and bar not shown)
- She is buried in Beechwood Cemetery (gravestone shown below)
The memoriam published in The Canadian Nurse and Hospital Review (June 1920, vol 16, no 6, p 337) tells her story.
In the death of Matron Margaret Heggie Smith, R.R.C. and Bar, of Ottawa, which occurred at Atlantic City on May 12th, there passed away one of the most distinguished of Canadian nurses. Miss Smith, a graduate of the Blockley Hospital, Philadelphia, began her army career in 1900, when she was one of the Nursing Sisters selected for service with the Canadian Forces in South Africa. On her return from that campaign she resumed the private practice of her profession.
At the outbreak of the Great War, by virtue of her previous excellent services, Miss Smith was one of the first nurses to receive an appointment as Nursing Sister with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. With the First Contingent she embarked for Overseas in September, 1914, and did not again see Canada until October, 1919. During the interval Miss Smith served with distinction in France and in England, in 1915 being promoted to Matron. In 1916 she became Matron of the Ontario Military Hospital, the largest of the Overseas Canadian hospitals. Early in 1917 the work of Matron Smith received recognition in the form of the Royal Red Cross; she subsequently received from the Secretary of State for War a “Mention” for valuable services. For continuous and conspicuously meritorious service, Matron Smith, in 1919, was awarded that very limited distinction of a bar to the Royal Red Cross.
But years of steady and strenuous duty had its undermining effect, and it was in somewhat impaired health that Matron Smith returned to Canada. After some months’ treatment, she had seemingly recovered her health: and it was whilst in the enjoyment of a well-merited holiday, with friends, at Atlantic City, that, without warning, she was elected to join those “Whom God has called to His mysterious rest.” The memory of the best of Matrons will ever remain enshrined in the loving remembrance of her associates of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
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