Red Cross Nurse’s Cap, c. 1910s
This Red Cross nurse’s cap belonged to Edith G. Alexander of Saskatoon.
A Medical Family
Married to Dr. Harold E. Alexander, a prominent surgeon at Saskatoon’s St. Paul’s Hospital, Edith herself practiced medicine as well. She worked as a nurse for the Red Cross in both the First and Second World Wars. She wore this cap while nursing during the First World War, likely around 1916.
Nurses were a vital part of the war effort from 1914-18. Though they never served in the trenches, they were often close to the front lines. They had many responsibilities, ranging from administering painkillers and cleaning wounds to helping with surgery. They also nursed uninjured soldiers who fell ill with viruses, like the 1918 Spanish Flu.
At least 58 Canadian nurses died in the First World War. They were hit with bombings and enemy fire, fell ill with diseases they were treating, or drowned after a U-Boat attack on a hospital ship.
Red Cross in Sask
The first recorded use of the Red Cross icon used in accordance with the Geneva Convention in Canada was during the 1885 Northwest Resistance at Batoche. Though there was no formal Red Cross organization in Canada at the time, white flags with red crosses sewn on them were used by medical personnel to indicate they were providing care for the wounded.