|Date of Birth||August 11, 1867|
|Place of Birth||Toronto, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Joseph Ross (mother), 782 25th St., Edmonton, Alberta|
|Trade / Calling||nurse|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||Canadian Special Red Cross Hospital, Buxton|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Army Medical Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||London, England|
|Date of Enlistment||May 12, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||47|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||July 12, 1918|
|Age at Death||51|
|Buried At||Buxton Cemetery, Derbyshire, United Kingdom|
Nursing Sister Ada Janet Ross enlisted in May 1915, at age 47, and served in France and the UK for three years. She died of illness in July 1918 in Buxton, England.
Ada was born on 11 August 1867 in Toronto, Ontario. Her parents were Joseph and Margaret Ross and she had at least one older sister, Elizabeth (Lilly), and a younger brother Waldon. By the time of the 1881 census her parents were living in Prince Arthur’s Landing (later called Port Arthur), in northwestern Ontario, where her father worked as a carpenter. In the mid-1890s they moved to Winnipeg and Joseph died there in 1899, at age 72. When the 1901 census was taken Margaret, Ada and Waldon were living in Winnipeg with Elizabeth and her husband William Alexander Brown, a railway conductor. Ada also stayed with Elizabeth and her husband when they lived for awhile in Rat Portage (now called Kenora). By 1904 they had moved back to Winnipeg where William became a general superintendent with the CNR.
Ada graduated from the Winnipeg General Hospital School of Nursing in 1905, when she was 34 years old. Starting in 1908 she spent several years as the women’s Superintendent at the hospital in Selkirk, Manitoba, and she was listed there in the 1911 census. Her brother was still in Winnipeg at the time but the rest of the family had moved to Edmonton. In 1912 Ada took a six-month post-graduate nursing course at the Women’s Hospital in New York.
The war started in August 1914 and in September the first contingent of 100 volunteer nurses left Canada for Great Britain. Women chosen for overseas service were required to have nursing training and to be unmarried and in good health. Ada enlisted with the Canadian Army Medical Corps the following spring, at age 47. She embarked from Halifax on 1 May 1915 on the SS Hesperian, along with about 90 other nurses, and they arrived in Liverpool on 10 May. Two days later Ada signed her attestation as a nursing sister, listing her mother in Edmonton as next of kin.
In July Ada was sent to France and for the next two years she served at No. 1 Canadian General Hospital in Etaples. In August 1917 she was transferred to the Ontario Military Hospital in Orpington, Kent (No. 16 Canadian General Hospital) and that same month she visited Canada while serving on a hospital ship. She returned to England in mid-September and spent another four months in Orpington. In February 1918 she was sent to the Canadian Special Red Cross Hospital in Buxton, Derbyshire. Ada became ill with tuberculosis that spring and in June she was admitted to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital for Nursing Sisters in Northwood, Buxton. On 10 July she was reported as dangerously ill, suffering from tuberculosis, peritonitis and pleurisy. She died at 8 pm on 12 July. Ada’s funeral was held from St. John’s Church three days later and she was laid to rest in Buxton Cemetery in Derbyshire.
From the Manitoba Free Press, 8 August 1918, page 7: ‘Nursing Sister Ada Janet Ross, of the C.A.M.C., who died at the Canadian Nurses’ Convalescent Hospital at Northwood, Buxton, Derbyshire, England, on July 12, was a graduate of the Winnipeg General Hospital. The deceased went to France almost with the first Canadian nurses, namely, in May 1915, and remained there for two years, when she was put on hospital ship duty between Canada and the Old Country. For some months prior to her death she had been doing work at Buxton.‘
Ada is commemorated on the Next of Kin Monument in Winnipeg, located near the Legislative Building. Canada’s Nursing Sisters are commemorated on the Nursing Sisters’ Memorial in the Hall of Honour at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.
By Becky Johnson
Photo of Ada is courtesy of the Health Sciences Centre Archives; funeral and grave marker photos are from the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.