Elaine Clow Nurses’ Voices From the Great War (1914-1918)

Biography – Elaine Clow


I was four or five when Uncle Arthur’s glass eye peaked back at me from a glass in the bathroom. I asked the basic questions – who, what, where, when, why, how? His granddaughter, Jeanne-Marie, a year younger than I, had the same curiosity throughout our childhoods. Uncle Arthur was a great story-teller, and delighted in telling his tales, some of which were even true. A cavalry sergeant in the Great War, he lost the eye in the trenches in France. Jeanne-Marie and I were inseparable during summer holidays, so when he babysat us, the glass eye stared at us through his afternoon nap in the hammock. He felt it necessary to sing ALL the words to many of the trench songs; a good many with words that needed explanation or glossing over. In addition to Uncle Arthur, my dad’s family also ran to a lot of medics: two of his cousins were in the Harvard Unit, Uncle Leon was one of the founding doctors at Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro, and Aunt Bessie’s husband was an early psychiatrist at the Veterans’ hospital in Manchester, working with shell shocks from the Great War.


After art school, and university, I obtained my pilot’s license at the airport housing the Aviation Museum of the Great War with flying war birds of the era.  I became involved with the Canadian Warplane Heritage before my marriage.  After becoming a new mom, I wrote and had published three books on play.


A friend of a friend had material she wanted to preserve, obtained from her mother-in-law, Vera Strange, who had served on the Somme as a Canadian Nursing Sister – did I want to see if it could be published? This led to a still-unpublished manuscript, and years of research and writing. I had access to primary source documents at the: Canadian Forces College, the University of Toronto Allemang Project Interviews, Grey-Bruce Museum, Royal Canadian Military Institute, Canadian War Museum, and private letters and diaries from family members of some of the nursing sisters. I also had access to the existing scrapbooks created by Canadian businessman Thomas Knowlton containing thank you letters from the trenches for Comfort Boxes and newspaper clippings collected during the Great War that had been housed at the Canadian Military College, and later the Canadian Forces College.


The course Nurses’ Voices from The Great War draws from these primary, mostly private and unpublished, sources.



Sheridan College School of Design, Port Credit, Ontario (textile design)

Sheridan College of Applied Arts and Technology, Oakville, Ontario Arts Dipl. (English & Media)

Orangeville Airport, Caledon, Ontario

Brampton Flying Club, Brampton, Ontario YZP 30143 Private Pilot’s License

York University, North York, Ontario B.A. (History, Political Science, Psychology 4th year majors)


Supplemental: Humber College, Ontario Management Development Certificate,

George Brown College, Public Speaking, Canadian Securities Course (investment banking)


Books: Baby Games, (Canada, US, Australia); Kids’ Games (Canada, Australia); Kids’ Games Too! (Canada, Australia)