Elizabeth Lawrie Smellie

Nurse, Deceased Person

1884 – 1968

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Who was Elizabeth Lawrie Smellie?

Elizabeth Lawrie Smellie RRC was a Canadian nurse, and the first woman to be promoted to the rank of colonel in the Canadian army.

She was born at Port Arthur, Ontario, to Dr. Thomas Stuart Traill Smellie, Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for Fort William and Lake of the Woods from 1905-1911, and Janet Eleanor Lawrie. She trained at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore, Maryland. To her family and friends, she was known as "Beth".

During World War I, she was posted at Cliveden, Lady Astor's estate, and became matron of the Moore Barracks Hospital at Shorncliffe Army Camp where thousands of Canadian soldiers were treated. In 1917 she was decorated by King George V at Buckingham Palace with the first class Royal Red Cross.

After further post-war training in Boston, she taught public health nursing for two years at McGill University, Montreal. She was Chief Superintendent of the Victorian Order of Nurses from 1924 to May 1947, except during World War II, when she was called back into the Canadian army as Colonel and Matron-in-chief of the Canadian Women's Army Medical Corps from 1940 until 1944. She was the first woman to achieve the rank of colonel in the Canadian army.

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Mar 22, 1884
  • Canada
Lived in
  • Thunder Bay
Mar 5, 1968

on July 23, 2013


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