By Dianne Dodd, Deborah Gorham
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Extra resources for Caring and Curing: Historical Perspectives on Women and Healing in Canada
Caring for both "the souls and bodies of our fellow creatures" was, Tilley informed the Council, the singular purpose of the Order. Tilley described for her audience the steps taken by London-area "circles" of the King's Daughters to meet the medical needs of their less fortunate neighbours. Helping poor women and children was the principal focus of their efforts. Some circles, which varied in size from six to onwards of twenty women, lent parturient women maternity bags, which provided "all articles needed by mother and infant, including sheets, pillow cases and towels," and visited them daily until they were able to care for themselves.
Tilley praised the willingness of these "sisters" to sacrifice their own interests in the care of others. This, in her estimation, marked them as true students of Christ: In their desire to help their fellow creatures in the name of Christ, they were willing to take two days of hard, steady work in the factory or shop without a night between for sleep, the night being given to nurse the sick. All honor to these dear sisters who were willing to make personal sacrifice to carry out their Master's teachings.
Just as local council affiliates in London and Toronto hoped that friendly visiting and missionary nursing would save urban Canada for Christ, the Council's national leadership looked to nursing— although not necessarily to trained nurses—as a way to empower prairie women as nation-builders. Members of the National Council strongly identified with the new generation of largely Anglo-Saxon women who were building farms and communities in the Canadian Northwest before 1900. Like their own pioneer "foremothers" who had helped "tame" the wilderness of central and eastern Canada in the eighteenth 32 CARING AND CURING and early nineteenth centuries, Council women described prairie women as "civilizers" and as nation builders.