In April 1885, the Canadian government ordered the establishment of a medical and surgical unit to accompany the Canadian forces organized to quell the North-West Rebellion. Nursing units had been first organized during the Crimean War (1853-1856). Operating under the leadership of Florence Nightingale, these units provided valuable medical service for the British army in the Crimea. Nursing units had also been an integral part of medical services for both the Union and Confederate armies during the American Civil War.
Under the direction of Reverend Mother Hanna Grier Coome, seven nursing sisters provided medical services for the field hospital established in Moose Jaw, North-West Territories. Their participation in the 1885 campaign led to the development of nursing units to accompany troops in future military operations.