Nurses of World War I: Ethel Blanche Ridley

Ethel Blanche Ridley was born in Belleville on March 31, 1874 daughter of Dr. Charles Ridley and Anna Campbell.

She was educated locally, graduated from St. Hilda’s College at the University of Toronto with a B.A. in 1895 and was a graduate of the New York Training School for Nurses on May 20, 1899 but missed the ceremony as she was with the United States Army in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War; later, in China, she did missionary duty providing the sick and needy with hospital supplies and comfort and organizing work in connection with training schools.  Afterwards Miss Ridley joined the staff of the Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled in New York. She enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on September 16, 1914.


Ethel Blanche Ridley, courtesy of Trinity College Archives, Toronto

Height: 5’ 6”

Weight: 140lb

Age: 40 (stated age: 36)

Nursing Sister Ridley, by virtue of her long experience as Superintendent of Nurse Training Schools in the United States and her previous military service, was selected as Matron for the No. 2 Canadian General Hospital; she was stationed at Le Touquet, France and later at military hospitals in Granville, Ramsgate and Buxton England. Miss Ridley received several decorations including the 1914 Star, the Royal Red Cross 1st Class and was appointed Commander, Order of the British Empire in 1918, receiving the C.B.E. in 1919 at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace. She returned to Canada setting sail on July 28, 1919 aboard the S.S. Adriatic and was discharged on August 8, 1919; she was appointed as the Directress of Nursing at the Vancouver General Hospital in 1919 but was unable to fill this position due to ill health.  Nurse Ridley returned to New York City and rejoined the New York Orthopaedic Hospital as Director of Nurses until 1942.

Ethel Ridley’s obituary in the Intelligencer, 1949 July 21

Ethel Blanche Ridley died at the Brockville General Hospital on July 18, 1949 aged 75 years 3 months 17 days. She is interred at the Belleville Cemetery Section O Row 4 Grave 7.

Ethel Ridley’s gravestone in Belleville cemetery