About Gladys Matheson

About Gladys Matheson

  • Gladys Elizabeth Matheson was the first of nine children born to John and Elizabeth. She was born at the Onion Lake Mission, Northwest Territories, on September 27, 1892, the same year that the family settled in Onion Lake.
  • Gladys' mother, Dr. Elizabeth (Scott) Matheson was a teacher from the early age of seventeen, and became a physician after attending the Ontario Women's Medical College.
  • Gladys' father, Reverend John Richard Matheson was a contractor before he became a missionary for the Anglican Church and was assigned to serve at St. Barnabas Mission in Onion Lake, NWT (became Saskatchewan in 1905). 
  • She attended the Kilborn Sister's school at Dunham Ladies College from 1906-1909; she returned home at seventeen to work at the mission.
  • Gladys continued her formal education in Prince Albert, where she trained as a nurse beginning in 1911. Gladys returned home only seven months after she enrolled, because she felt she was needed more on the Mission.
  • Gladys spent three years on the Mission after returning home from Prince Albert. She worked with her mother in the Mission's hospital, she taught in the Onion Lake School, she helped take care of her siblings, and she worked around the yard.
  • Gladys was keen to finish her nurse's training, so she eventually traveled to Winnipeg in January of 1914 to finish at the Winnipeg General Hospital.
  • Both her father and her fiancé (Gerald Barnes) died in 1916, while she was in Winnipeg.  Despite her grief at this difficult time, she managed to continue on with her education, and graduated in May of 1917, when she enlisted in the military service as a Nursing Sister.

Artwork in Gladys Matheson's autograph album
by C.R. Alexander of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
PAS, R-E1395, Gladys (Matheson) Crim fonds, Autograph Album, 1917-1918

  • Awaiting service, Gladys worked in the Tuxedo Military Hospital in Winnipeg, where she cared for the returning soldiers. She was also a private nurse for Mr. Clarke, the president of the Grain Exchange. Gladys was well known as a very "competent and capable" nurse and would often be requested by doctors and patients alike to deliver nursing care.

PAS Photo
Gladys (Matheson) Crim fonds, R-B11319, p. 40


  • Gladys enlisted for military service on May, 25, 1917, and departed with the 25th Draft on December 12, 1917, as a Lieutenant Nursing Sister.

Gladys Matheson (right) with nursing colleague, in dress uniforms.
PAS Photo
Gladys (Matheson) Crim fonds, R-B11319

  • Gladys arrived for duty on January 8, 1918, in Eastbourne, England, at the No. 14 Canadian General Hospital Operating Room.

'Queen Mary' Tea Rooms, Woodcote Park Convalescent Hospital, England, 1918 or 1919
PAS Photo

Gladys (Matheson) Crim fonds, R-B11319, p. 51

  • On May 6, 1918, Gladys was ordered to serve at the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne, France. Here she served in the Medical Ward for cases such as Pneumonia and "Shellshock". She was no longer in a hospital; the units were huts that were close to the front lines.

PAS Photo
Gladys (Matheson) Crim fonds, R-B11319, p. 85

  • Although the war ended on November 11, 1918, Gladys served in France until May 24, 1919, since there was the Spanish Flu epidemic after the War.

Diary entry by Gladys Matheson on November 11, 1918

PAS, R-E1395, Gladys (Matheson) Crim fonds, 1917-1918 Diary

  • Upon her return to Canada, she served another year back in Winnipeg at the Tuxedo Military Hospital.
  • Gladys was demobilized in July, 1920, and went to Vancouver to nurse for some months there.
  • In 1926, she married a U.S. Infantry officer in Hawaii, Sterling Crim, and remained with him in San Antonio, Texas.  She moved back to Canada (to Winnipeg, Manitoba) in the 1980s, following Crim's death.

Context for the Gladys (née Matheson) Crim fonds

  • From Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan, R-E1395, Gladys (née Matheson) Crim fonds, including wartime diaries (1917-1919), reminiscences of wartime experiences, an autograph album, and photographs.  These records were donated to the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan in 1982, by Gladys’s sister, Ruth M. Buck.




Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association, The Story Behind the Statue #3, World War 1 Nursing Sister Gladys Elizabeth (Matheson) Crim, http://www.srna.org/index.php/gladys-matheson/the-story-behind-the-statue-3

Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan, R-E1395, Gladys (Matheson) Crim fonds