Nurses of World War I: Edna MacLachlan

Edna Estella Thompson was born at Whitby on October 16, 1881 daughter on James Thompson and Ethel Conant; she was orphaned early and raised by her aunt Louisa in Clarenceville, Missisquoi, Quebec.

She was educated locally and graduated from the Nursing School in Belleville in June 1903 as the Gold Medalist. During her time in Belleville, ‘Stell’ lived with Aunt Edna Mary (Conant) Caldwell at 255 Bridge Street East (see her Journal).

255 Bridge Street East, Belleville

Miss Thompson was united in marriage to Donald MacLachlan in September 1904 in Brooklyn, New York. Here Mrs. MacLachlan worked at the Manhattan Hospital and raised her family but within a few years removed to work in Montreal, estranged from her husband. On June 30, 1915 she graduated from the Divisional School of Military Instruction at Quebec City and enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on August 31, 1915 in Montreal.

Height:  5’ 5”

Weight:  136lb

Age: 33 (stated age:29)

Nursing Sister MacLachlan left Canada on September 24, 1915 to England and then on to France where she served at the Canadian Clearing Station, saw much action coming under fire on several occasions. In recognition of her bravery in remaining on duty during several bombing raids, Lieutenant MacLachlan was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palms by the French government; she was also honoured by the British and was presented at Buckingham Palace.

Hand-tinted photograph of nurses picking poppies. Edna MacLachlan is second from left. Courtesy of the Costume Museum of Canada

Mrs. Maclachlan returned to Canada setting sail on September 6, 1919 aboard the S.S. Orduna and was discharged on September 16, 1919. Her husband enlisted and served with the Seaforth Highlanders of the Canadian Expeditionary Force; reunited after the War the couple lived in Toronto and in 1973 she removed to live with her son in Wiarton, Ontario.

Edna Estella MacLachlan died on October 31, 1976 aged 95 years 15 days. She is interred at the Bayview Cemetery, Wiarton, Block R Section 107 Lot #1.

MacLachlan headstone in Wiarton, Ontario.