Local Medical Heroes During Conflict

Many local citizens; male and female, enlisted and served as medical personnel during wartime.
Our mandate is to tell the stories that need to be told for future generations and to honour the magnificent efforts of the men and women who gave so much to accept the challenges of the casualties of war.

A few are honoured here and many more to come.

Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture (b.April 10, 1890)

The first Indigenous woman to become a registered nurse in Canada and to gain the right to vote in a Canadian Federal Election.

Charlotte Edith Anderson was born and raised on the Six Nations reserve in Ohsweken near BrantfordOntario. Of Mohawk descent, she was the youngest of eight children Edith attended day school on the reserve and received her high school diploma at Brantford Collegiate Institute. She was considered a gifted student. At the time, a completed high-school education for any Canadian woman, Indigenous or otherwise, was rare.

In her early twenties, Edith had no luck applying to Ontario nursing schools. Most Canadian nursing programs excluded Indigenous women; the federal Indian Act was a barrier to higher education for Indigenous people. Consequently, Edith looked to the United States, where she was accepted into New York’s New Rochelle Nursing School. She graduated first in her class and became the first Indigenous registered nurse in Canada in 1914.

Until the United States entered the First World War in 1917, Edith worked as a nurse at a private school in New Rochelle, New York. Afterward, she volunteered, at age 27, with the United States Army Nurse Corps, along with 14 other Canadian nurses. She is one of a few Indigenous women who served overseas with this Corps. Edith worked as a nurse in Vittel, France, treating soldiers injured in gas attacks and trench warfare.

She described 14-hour shifts and sorrow over the loss of a favourite patient, Earl King, who had adopted her as a big sister. The 20-year-old, shot in the neck, was expected to live, but early one morning, he started to hemorrhage. He died four hours later. Edith wrote: “My heart was broken. Cried most of the day and could not sleep.”

Edith became the first female Status Indian and registered band member to gain the right to vote in a Canadian federal election. The Military Service Act (1917) had given wartime nurses the right to vote. However, Indigenous women as a whole could not legally vote federally until 1960.

After the First World War, Edith continued to advocate for better Indigenous health care and in 1939, was elected honourary president of the Ohsweken Red Cross. At a hospital on the reserve, she worked as a nurse and midwife on a casual basis until 1955, when she turned 65.

A week before her 106th birthday Edith Anderson Monture died. Her funeral was conducted with full military honours.

Doctor Frank Clarke, M.D.
Doctor Frank Clarke, left Brantford in 1941 to go on active service in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.
He served on the staff of Chorley Military Hospital, Toronto before being transferred to Camp Borden Military Hospital and then to various camps on the west coast.
In 1943 he went overseas in the surgical services of the RCAMC and went with Canadian troops through Normandy and Belgium.
Dr. Clarke practiced in Brantford for six years prior to enlisting. Before that, he was a physician at Lady Willingdon Hospital in Ohsweken.
After the war he resumed his practice in Brantford and was a prominent physician for many years.


A Passion
for History