Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

Monday Monuments and Memorials – Nursing Sister Edith May Allison, Deseronto, ON

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Each nurse tells a story.

Edith May Allison was born in Marysville, Ontario on May 14, 1881, the daughter of Sarah Edith Prentice Allison (spelled Prentiss in some records) and Jonathan Greeley Allison. She had four sisters, Olive, Pearl, Helena (Lena) and Florence (Flossie). 

Edith and Florence both became nurses. Around 1912, the family moved to Calgary. Olive may not have moved with them. In city directories (not always an up-to-date source) Pearl is listed as a teacher, Lena as a stenographer; both seem to have moved from the family home before the war. Their father died in 1915, their mother in 1937.

In April 1917, Edith enlisted to serve overseas. Her attestation papers list her as a graduate nurse. She served in England and France. When she returned to Calgary in 1919, she was assigned to the Colonel Belcher Veterans Hospital, where she served as matron until her death in 1933. She is buried in the Deseronto Cemetery on County Rd 2, just east of the Ontario town of Deseronto.

Oddly, her obituary does not mention her family. Indeed, it tells more about those involved with her funeral than about her.

With delegations from many local veterans’ and ex-servicemen’s groups attending, including the Canadian Legion and the Unemployed Ex-servicemen’s Association, funeral services for the late Miss Edith May Allison, R.N., Colonel Belcher hospital matron, who died at the institution Monday, were held in the Canadian Legion Memorial Hall, Wednesday afternoon.

Ven. Archdeacon C. Swanson, assisted by Rev. J.M Roe, conducted the services and orderlies from the hospital acted as pall-bearers. The remains were forwarded to Marysville, Ont., for interment. The R. D. Sheffield funeral home of Innisfall was in charge of arrangements.

The late Miss Allison, who was born in Marysville, served overseas as a nurse during the war, and had been a member of the Canadian Legion for the past ten years. She had been associated with the hospital as matron since 1918. (Calgary Herald, 13 July 1933, p 21)

A short notice appeared in the September 1933 issue of The Canadian Nurse:

ALLISON—On July 10, 1933, Miss Edith May Allison, Reg. N., Matron of the Colonel Belcher Military Hospital. Miss Allison had been matron of this institution since her return from service overseas. (Vol 29, no 9, p 495)

In 1934 the Calgary Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association furnished a room in the Colonel Belcher Veterans Hospital in honour of Edith May Allison.

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Author: greatwar100reads

Canadian crusader for equality and justice. Connoisseur and creator of the written word. Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books and monuments. Read more at

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