CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – How does a young woman, born in 1862 into privileged circumstances in Prince Edward Island, rise to the top echelons of Canadian military nursing leadership?
April’s edition of the Island Studies Lecture Series on April 17 will feature author Katherine Dewar, who will speak about “The Making of a Canadian Military Nursing Heroine.” The heroine in question is the Island’s own Georgina Fane Pope (1862–1938) and is the subject of Dewar’s soon-to-be-released book “Called to Serve,” from Island Studies Press.
The presentation will discuss Pope’s path to power through the second half of the 19th century and into the 20th. Among other things, it addresses the significance of her powerful lineage, the influence of her parents on her world view, and the inspiration of Florence Nightingale, who invoked in Pope a “burning desire” to become an army nurse in a faraway land.
Pope’s story began from her rather sheltered life in Victorian P.E.I. to the “Boston States,” to the dangerous and primitive conditions she experienced as superintendent of nurses in two South African wars, her work in the formation of the nursing component of the Canadian Army Medical Corps; and to the battlefields of Europe during the First World War.
Dewar also authored the award-winning book, “Those Splendid Girls: The Heroic Service of Prince Edward Island Nurses in the Great War, 1914–1918.” She is retired from a career as a nursing instructor at the P.E.I School of Nursing and is now committed to researching P.E.I.’s colourful nursing history. “Those Splendid Girls” was shortlisted for an Atlantic Book Award, won Publication of the Year from the P.E.I Museum and Heritage Foundation, and the City of Summerside’s Heritage and Culture department. Dewar herself is the recipient of the P.E.I Museum and Heritage Foundation Award of Honour for her outstanding contribution to Island heritage.
The April Island Studies Lecture takes place on Tuesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. in the faculty lounge of UPEI’s SDU Main Building in Charlottetown. Admission to the lecture is free.