In several past blogs, I have been reconstructing the life of Carola Douglas through research and contributions by family members. However, family historian Anne Douglas has gone even farther. She has done extensive research on Carola and has come up with information that really casts light on this adventurous woman. With her kind permission, I am providing you with an excerpt of her account, along with photographs from her husband's family collection. As Anne writes:
"Carola Josephine Douglas was born in Costa Rica in 1874. One of four children born to Captain Andrew Trew Douglas and his wife Juanita...Andrew was 12 years old when he emigrated from Co. Armagh, in Ireland, with his parents and eight siblings in 1844.
He learned to be an engineer and a sea captain on the Great Lakes of his new land. He then left Canada to sail the oceans of South America, and led a very adventurous life. It was in Panama that he met his wife to be, Juanita Lanus(Lasas), a lady of Spanish descent.
Andrew and Juanita’s first two children, John Taylor and Elise were born in Panama in1868 and 1871.Then Andrew became very successful using his engineering skills, consulting on many ventures in South America including the Panama railroad and the French attempt to build the Panama Canal. This eventually led the family to projects in Costa Rica, and it was here that Carola Josephine was born in 1874 and then another brother, Arthur, my husband’s grandfather in 1877. It has been said that the whole family were fluent in the Spanish and English language. [The couple also had two other children, John Taylor, Elise, and Arthur--Anne's husband's grandfather.]
In May 1884 Andrew, Juanita and their children travelled from Panama to New York...A few days after their arrival, Andrew became gravely ill and died. Within a couple of days Juanita also died leaving their children as orphans."
The Douglas children were taken in by family members in Toronto and Winnipeg. From there on, their early origins were forgotten (at least in census records) and they were listed as Canadian born and their ages were also often incorrectly recorded. According to Anne Douglas, "Carola’s nursing career began at the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia," and the young woman was a frequent traveller, living in New York, but visiting places as far afield as Bermuda, Yugoslavia, Panama, England and Scotland.
In 1915, "Carola’s trip to Australia was cut short, when she heard that war had broken out in Europe. She travelled to Canada, presumably to the home of her sister Elise, who lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba," writes Anne Douglas. "It was here that Carola then enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps [Toronto Star Obituary
On the 18th of February, 1915 Carola arrived at Liverpool, England aboard the S.S. Zeeland. Her sailing companions were the brave men and women of the first contingent of the C.A.M.C. Netheravon House in Wiltshire was Carola’s first destination. This was a convalescent home for wounded Canadian troops, and it was here that Carola’s attestation papers were signed on March 4th 1915."
The rest of Carola's story you will find in previous blogs on this site. However, Anne Douglas's closing remarks should be shared: "Nursing Sister Carola Josephine Douglas, fulfilled her destiny, and is remembered forever for her love, and courage in the line of duty." Thanks Anne!
Note: Please look at the photograph "Canadian Nurses." It is from Carola Douglas' album, and Anne Douglas would love to be able to identify the women pictured. If you might have information, please email me at the contact information provided on my blog.