Early life and upbringing
Georgina Fane Pope was born January 1, 1862 in Prince Edward Island. The daughter of William Pope, a Father of the Confederation, she was a product of P.E.I gentility and could have doubtlessly had a comfortable marriage and became an island socialite. However, she instead travelled to New York, where she trained as a nurse at Bellevue Hospital.
Boer War and Canadian Army Nursing Service
In October 1899, after completing nursing studies at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, she volunteered for nursing service in the Second Boer War. Placed in command of the first group of nurses to go overseas, she served for more than a year in South Africa. For the first five months she and four other volunteer nurses served at British hospitals north of Cape Town. After, Pope and another sister proceeded North to Kroonstadt where, despite shortages in food and medical supplies, took charge of a military hospital and successfully cared for 230 sufferers of entric fever. She returned there in 1902 as commander of the Canadian Army Nursing Service in charge of a second group of 8 Canadian nurses. She served at a hospital in Natal until the end of the war in May that year. In 1903, she became the first Canadian to receive the Royal Red Cross, awarded to her for meritorious and distinguished service in the field. She was also the first of 6419 females to receive this award.
In 1908 she was appointed first Matron of the Canadian Army Medical Corps.
In 1917, aged 55, Pope, although in poor health went to work near Ypres and served for the remainder of the Great War until 1918.
In 2012 Canadian artist Laurie McGaw designed a five dollar coin in honour of four nurses. Georgina Pope stands in the foreground of the coin in front of three others. The coin is made of fine silver and is 99.99% pure, and its production was limited to 10,000.
- Collections Canada: Georgina Pope Government of Canada Archives
- War Museum of Canada: Georgina Pope War Museum of Canada
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