Matron Margaret Heggie Smith – UPDATED (photos)

Matron Margaret Heggie Smith served in the Boer’s War and WW1 with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. She is entitled to the Royal Red Cross 1st class with bar, Queen’s South Africa Medal with no clasp, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.

Her medals are at the Bytown Museum in Ottawa.

2014-04-13 14.50.29

She was born May 24th, 1872 in Ottawa, Ontario

She was the daughter of William Heggie Smith of Ottawa.

She studied nursing at the Blockley Hospital in Philadelphia.

She enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps to serve with the 19th Canadian Stationary Hospital in Harrismith, South Africa during the Boers’ War.

She returned to Canada in late July 1902.

She enlisted a first time on September 25th, 1914. She stated her address as 193 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

She was 5’ 6” and her religion was Presbyterian

I do not know why but she enlisted a second time on July 6th, 1917 in Orpington, England with the Ontario Military Hospital. On the paper her rank is Matron.

She served for two years in France, and 4 more years as Matron of the Ontario Military Hospital in Orpington, Kent, England, which became the No. 16 Canadian Field Hospital in 1917.

Photos of Margaret Smith in France

2014-04-13 14.41.24

2014-04-13 14.51.43

She was back in Canada in 1919

July 31st, 1919 : In recognition of her exceptional service, King George V awarded a bar to her her the Royal Red Cross. For the link of her award in the London Gazette click hereSmith LG

She died aged 47 on May 12th, 1920 in Atlantic City. Her funeral service at St. Andrew’s Church in Ottawa and conducted by the Reverend George Fitzpatrick. It was attended by a large number of military officers. Obituary from The Canadian nurse and hospital review : “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.”

She is buried at the Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa, Ontario

Picture of her gravestone

From The Canadian nurse and hospital review of January 1921 “The tablet, which is of handsome design, occupies a prominent place beneath the choir gallery and bears the following inscription: “In affectionate memory of Matron Margaret Heggie Smith, R.R.C., and Bar. Died 12th May, 1920. A Member of the C. A. M. C. Nursing Service since 1902. Served in the South African War and over five years in the Great War. This Tablet is erected by the members of the Overseas C. A. M. C. Nursing Service.

 Picture of the tablet in her honor at St-Andrew’s Church in Ottawa, Ontario

The ceremony throughout was most impressive. Rev. Mr. Kilpatrick referred feelingly to the life of service and sacrifice led by Matron Smith, and pointed out the relation of such a life to other lives dedicated to Christ. There were three points of contact: 1, the inspiration of love; 2, the swift recognition of need, human and divine; 3, a measureless sacrifice. These things, the preacher said, should call forth notes of thanks giving and pride, as in the old days, at an hour of sacrifice, they sounded the trumpets and sang the songs of the Lord. The memory of Matron Smith, Rev. Mr. Kilpatrick said, should lead to a high resolution to keep faith with those who died for the nation.
As the preacher delivered the words “To the glory of God and in pride and loving memory this tablet is now dedicated,” Mrs. Meighen pulled the cord and a thin silk Union Jack fell away and revealed the tablet. This was followed by a brief dedicatory prayer and the singing of the Doxology.”

If you know more information on this lady, please leave me message so I can add it to her small biography

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • davidunderdown95  On 2013/07/01 at 06:51

    She doesn’t seem to have a CWGC entry: I wonder if she is a non-commemoration? If she were discharged due to ill health and cause of death was the same, her death was within the qualifying dates

  • Medic  On 2013/07/01 at 16:56

    I still have to do research on her, I am sure that her military file will tell if she was ill before she was discharge. The problem in these cases is there must be a link between the war service and the cause of death and the Canadian official authorities had to be told, in some cases the person just did not bother to look that avenue

  • Ret LTC Mary E Hoettels USAR  On 2014/08/22 at 00:21

    I know why she joined to serve with the military hospital for the second time; once you have experienced it, no matter how horrendous, one feels the need to go back again to provide the care the injured soldiers and civilians would need. She also had the experience which would make her a good leader and calming influence with the new nurses who served with her.

    This is not a unique phenomena; it is a sense of duty and loyalty to one’s country and brothers and sisters in uniform to step up without fanfare to meet the need generation after generation no matter what the society.

    Thank you for sharing this information. Reading about the women from all the countries who served in World War I has given me a greater appreciation of all the generations who have come before mine. I now have two daughters in the military; I hope peace prevails by the time my granddaughter graduates.

    We need researchers like yourself to remind the generations growing up now how much as a collective world society we have fought to regain peace and yet it remains on a most tenuous thread, never to be taken for granted.

  • Nelson  On 2014/08/22 at 09:52

    The second reason she probably joined again is in 1914 women had almost no rights in Canada, they were granted the right to vote only in 1919. Joining the army were your competences were put to the test and you were put in charge of a very meaningful work was probably very attracting

  • David Brearley  On 2015/12/24 at 14:37

    I have been researching Maggie Smith for many years and have collected some details about her. Some of the questions asked may have no answers. She was ill before she was discharged. In fact she came back to Canada to rest before she returned to England.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: