She was called “The Dynamo of Discipline” and became one of Canada’s greatest wartime heroes. And she was born at Carleton Place.
Major Evelyn Wilson was a pioneer in the field of wartime medicine. Such was her reputation and the respect it demanded that even doctors took orders from her. In fact, it’s been said that she even made King George himself wait to have an audience with her.
Despite her outward appearance, Wilson was a dedicated humanitarian who took the science of nursing to previous unreachable heights. Her 27 year career at the prestigious Samford (Connecticut) Hospital was interrupted only by the breakout of World War One. And during that war, she obtained (the then unthinkable for a woman) rank of major.
Her battlefield leadership and innovated techniques were simply outstanding.
Former Carleton Place Mayor and local historian (the late) Brian Costello said that Wilson was the highest decorated veteran of all Carleton Place veterans (man or woman). “She was one of only four people ever to have been awarded the Red Cross Medal,” he explained. And to those who wouldn’t know, this is an incredible honor to ever be bestowed on her or anyone else for that matter. Just utterly amazing indeed!”
Wilson once kept a field hospital in operation even though it had come under enemy air attack and the operating room had been destroyed. Her discipline and determination led fellow nurses and doctors to keep going though surrounded by dead colleagues and patients. Many who came under her charge said that they actually feared her but all eventually ended up admiring her in the end. She was fair in all dealings with her nurses and could show deep felt empathy in times of crisis. She had a caring heart.
The upstairs lounge at Branch 192 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Carleton Place is named in her honor. A solarium at The National Defence Medical Center in Ottawa was dedicated to her in 1986. She was inducted into the Canadian Veterans Hall of Valour in 2005. It just happened to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital. (A facility dedicated to Canadian War Veterans).“I think it is rather fitting to see Major Wilson’s induction tied in with an institution she would have so whole heartedly supported,” the late Mr. Costello remarked at the time.
Other attributes of hers could be listed but it’s suffice to say that Major Evelyn Wilson definitely earned her place in history as one of this nation’s greatest heroes.
The daughter of a local doctor, she never married and returned to live out her life in her hometown. She was well in her 90’s at the time of her death. A local man, Ivan Hamilton, was a friend of hers and served as a pallbearer at her funeral. “Her casket was a heavier one then usual because it was built with solid brass,” he said.
Wilson was interned at the Auld Kirk Cemetery in Almonte.