Elizabeth Lawrie Smellie (1884 – 1968)

Elizabeth Lawrie Smellie
Library and Archives Canada/PA-128225

Elizabeth Lawrie Smellie was a nurse, teacher and the first woman to be appointed colonel in the Canadian Army. Born in Port Arthur, Ontario, Smellie began her career as a Nursing Sister with the Royal Canadian Medical Corps. She served during the First World War, where her efforts earned her the Royal Red Cross, First Class Award. She was promoted to assistant to the matron-in-chief before leaving the postwar army nursing service, first to teach at McGill University, later to serve as the Victorian Order of Nurses' chief superintendent. Following Canada's entry into the Second World War, Smellie rejoined the army and directed her skills to helping soldiers and organizing the Canadian Women's Army Corps. She was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1944.

“I had the privilege of being an older woman in the Army this time and sometimes they listened to what I said.”

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