The Canadian War Museum is pleased to announce the acquisition of a locket that once belonged to pioneering Canadian military nurse Georgina Pope, known as “Prince Edward Island’s Florence Nightingale.” The gold-filled pendant and chain, presented to Pope for service in the South African War, was donated to the Museum by her great-niece Louise Birkett Krapf, shortly before Krapf’s death in 2015.
“This locket is a fine example of the types of gifts — such as medallions, certificates and ribbons — presented to returning members of the service by Canadian municipalities in the early 20th century,” said Stephen Quick, Director General of the Canadian War Museum. “It adds to what we already know about an extraordinary woman whose military service was recognized and appreciated by the citizens of Ottawa.”
Georgina Fane Pope, daughter of Father of Confederation William Henry Pope, was born in Charlottetown, P.E.I. in 1862. After studying nursing in New York, she volunteered in 1899 to serve as a nursing sister with Canadian troops headed to South Africa. Upon landing in Cape Town, Pope was named superintendent of the Canadian nursing staff. She and three other Canadian nurses served at British hospitals north of Cape Town for five months. Pope and another nursing sister then continued farther north to Kroonstadt in the Orange Free State. Despite shortages of food and medical supplies in Kroonstadt, they took charge of the military hospital there and helped care for 230 victims of typhoid fever.
Pope returned to South Africa, where she served at a hospital in Natal from January 1902 until the end of the war in June of that year. In 1903, she became the first Canadian to be awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria, for her exceptional service and competence in the field. She was appointed first Matron of the Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1908 and served in England and France during the First World War.
The City of Ottawa presented Pope with the oval locket in recognition of the vital work she performed under extremely trying circumstances. The front bears an enamel shield with the words “For Duty to Queen and Empire,” along with a Union Jack and a beaver above a gold half-wreath of maple leaves. The crest and motto of the City of Ottawa appear on the back, along with the engraved words “From the Citizens of Ottawa to Georgina Pope CNS for services in South Africa 1900.”
Pope died in 1938 and was given a full military funeral in Charlottetown. She is one of 14 historical figures commemorated at the Valiants Memorial adjacent to the National War Memorial in Ottawa, and is one of four nurses depicted on a commemorative five-dollar silver coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2012.
The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national, and international dimensions. Work of the Canadian War Museum is made possible in part through financial support from the Government of Canada.