Nurses of World War I: Celestina Geen

Celestina Geen was born in Belleville on February 7, 1878 daughter of Albert Geen and Sara Ann Consuelo Forneri. The father of our subject was a druggist who established Geen’s Pharmacy, served as a city councillor, was a Deacon and preacher of the Church of England and an honorary Mohawk. They resided in the Moodie Cottage.

Moodie Cottage on Bridge Street West and Sinclair Street in Belleville

Celestina was educated locally and was a graduate of the Military Hospital in Halifax in 1910; she was one of the few military nurses in Canada when the call came.

Certificate of Military Instruction for Celestina Geen, 1910

Miss Geen enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on September 25, 1914 at Quebec City.

Height:  5’ 7”

Weight:  136lb

Age: 36

Nursing Sister Geen was initially attached to the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne, France and also served in England, Belgium and for a time was stationed near Ypres where German shells were continually falling. In January 1916 Miss Geen was admitted to the Westcliffe Eye and Ear Hospital at Folkestone, England for treatment of influenza and nervous exhaustion and subsequently underwent a tonsillectomy.

West Cliff Hotel, used as a Canadian hospital in World War I

She returned to Canada setting sail in November 1917 aboard the S.S. Olympic and was given a medical discharge on May 14, 1918. She was united in marriage to Samuel Steele at Christ Church in Belleville on December 26, 1918; he was a Civil Engineer and a decorated Veteran of World War 1. Mr. Steele died in 1923.

Celestina Steele died in Toronto on August 16, 1972 aged 94 years 6 months 9 days. She is interred at the Belleville Cemetery Section K, Row 5 Grave 1E.

Headstone for Celestina Geen

2 thoughts on “Nurses of World War I: Celestina Geen

  1. I have researched Canadian nursing sisters for over 15 years and wrote a book about them (Sacrifice of Angels). There is no evidence that Canadian nursing sisters served in any hospitals in Belgium. As well, there were no Canadian hospitals located in Belgium. I have read NS Geen’s service file many times and nowhere does it state she was ever posted in Belgium.


  2. This reference to Belgium was taken form the July 11, 1917 edition of the Belleville Intelligencer newspaper, on microfilm at the Belleville Public Library.


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