Margaret C. MacDonald

One hundred years ago, with the news of the British Empire at war with Germany, men from many of the local militias rushed to volunteer. For many of us, this is the iconic view of the beginning of the Great War. But what is less known, in northern Nova Scotia one of the first to serve was a woman, Margaret Clothilde MacDonald of Bailey’s Brook. By the 8th of August, 1914 Ms. MacDonald was on her way to serve as Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian Nursing Service. Today she is honoured with a national historic plaque in Bailey’s Brook.

Born - Bailey’s Brook, Nova Scotia February 26, 1873
Died - Bailey’s brook, Nova Scotia September 7, 1948

Education and training

Early schooling: Bailey’s Brook School, Stella Maris Convent in Pictou, Mount Saint Vincent Academy in Halifax.
Nursing: New York City Hospital and Harlem Emergency Hospital, Queen Alexandria’s Imperial Nursing Service in London.

Nursing service:

  • Spanish American War aiding returned soldiers in New York.
  • South African War (Boer War) with both British and Canadian forces.
  • Panama Canal Commission.
  • Station (Garrison) Hospital Halifax.
  • Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian Nursing Service/Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (Major). With headquarters in London, England, she was in charge of all Canadian military nurses overseas during World War I.

To learn more about Margaret MacDonald we recommend the following book which can be borrowed through any of our branch libraries or online at
Margaret MacDonald: Imperial Daughter by Susan Mann. Montreal: McGill –Queen’s University Press. 2005.
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National Historic Monument


Major Margaret C. MacDonald

"Born in Bailey's Brook Margaret Macdonald chose nursing as a career. She cared for the wounded of the Spanish-American War and then worked with Canadian troops in South Africa between 1900 and 1902. She also served in Panama during the building of the canal. Appointed to the permanent Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1905, she was made Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian Nursing Service in 1914. With headquarters in London, England, she was in charge off all Canadian military nurses overseas during World War 1. She retired in 1923 but maintained her professional contacts until her death in 1948".

View a copy of this information sheet in PDF format.

Attestation Paper of Margaret MacDonald

Attestation Paper

Attestation paper of Margaret C. MacDonald courtesy of Library and Archives Canada: //