1889-1977

Mary (May) Matilda Bird was born at Woodchester Villa on November 17, 1889, and was schooled at St. Margaret’s. Mary also attended the Toronto Conservatory of Music and by 1913, was a music teacher advertising her services in the Herald Gazette, a local newspaper.

While visiting relatives in England, Mary enlisted as a Voluntary Aid Detachment with the British Red Cross. Apparently, she was the lone Canadian in a force sent to aid the White Russians. It is possible that she served in the Prince’s Palace until the arrival of the Bolsheviks. During her service, Mary worked in Egypt, England and Russia serving as a nurse. She was granted medals for her war service but never spoke of her experiences. Her fiancée died during World War I.  

Upon her return to Canada, Mary took her nursing degree at Western Hospital, graduating in 1924. At Western Hospital, she was one of the head nurses and was responsible for training student nurses. Later, Mary worked in the tuberculosis ward at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto and then because a public health nurse for the city. 

When Mary returned to Muskoka, she worked with the Muskoka Health Unit for several years during the 1950s. Mary was considered to be selfless, popular, gregarious, independent and progressive.  

On January 3, 1977, Mary died.

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Woodchester Villa is located in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada.