From LCMSDS Productions, The On War & Society podcast features interviews with the most prominent historians of war and society. Host Eric Story sits down with his guests to discuss their cutting-edge research, the challenges associated with doing history, and life ‘behind the book.’

On War & Society #24–Ambitions Unrealized with Laura Quiney

The contribution of nurses to attend to the wounded was essential to military care and recovery during the First World War. Less noted is the role of the middle class and educated, though largely unqualified, women who assisted in filling in the gaps at overburdened hospitals and convalescent homes as voluntary nurses. In this episode, guest host Kyle Pritchard sits down with Linda Quiney to discuss her research on the Canadian Voluntary Aid Detachment in her new book, This Small Army of Women. Women drawn to voluntary medical service sought a mixed sense of camaraderie, patriotism and adventure. Yet many experienced difficult and mundane work as a result of hostility from professional nurses and doctors who doubted their abilities. While some continued in emerging disciplines like physiotherapy and dietetics after they returned to Canada, others found it difficult to continue in the medical field. Whether they married or continued on in another career, Linda suggests that the majority of women went back to their lives with fond memories of their time in service.

Linda Quiney is a historian and serves as an affiliate with the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry at the University of British Columbia. She is also the author of a number of articles and chapters on Canadian and Newfoundland women’s wartime voluntary work in support of the military medical services with the St. John Ambulance and Canadian Red Cross.


Ian Miller, Our Glory and Our Grief: Torontonians and the Great War. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.

Linda Quiney, This Small Army of Women. Vancouver: University of UBC Press, 2017.

Past Episodes

Episode #1–The War Junk Historian with Alex Souchen

Episode #2–Somewhere Between War and Society with Terry Copp

Episode #3–Complicating History with Mary Chaktsiris

Episode #4–Canada’s Arctic Laboratory with Matthew Wiseman

Episode #5–Did You Fall Into the Vimy Trap? with Geoff Hayes

Episode #6–Dunkirk with Terry Copp

Episode #7–The Conscripted with Patrick Dennis

Episode #8–In Search of the Canadian Officer with Geoff Hayes

Episode #9–Treating Wounds of the Mind with Meghan Fitzpatrick

Episode #10–Destruction and Dissent in the Marshall Islands with Martha Smith-Norris

Episode #11–Civil War and Identity with Alec Maavara

Episode #12–A Microhistory of an Ace with Graham Broad

Episode #13–Family at the Front with Kristine Alexander

Episode #14–Rewriting the Great War with Mark Humprhies

Episode #15–Unpacking the Trauma Kit, Part I with Amy Milne-Smith

Episode #16–Unpacking the Trauma Kit, Part II with Amy Milne-Smith

Episode #17–Why Military Families Matter, Part I with Geoffrey Hayes

Episode #18–Why Military Families Matter, Part II with Geoffrey Hayes

Episode #19–How to Write 7,000 Words in a Week with Tim Cook

Episode #20–Uncovering the Secret History of Soldiers with Tim Cook

Episode #21–Rural Canada at War with Jonathan Vance

Episode #22–Shell Shock with Mark Humphries

Episode #23–Stalin’s Gulag with Wilson Bell

Contact Information

Matt Baker, Senior Research Associate and Centre Coordinator
[email protected]
(519) 884-0710 ext. 2080

Mailing Address
Wilfrid Laurier University
75 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON, Canada
N2L 3C5

Physical Address
232 King St. N. Waterloo, ON

Business Hours
Monday to Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: Closed


Back to Top