V.W. Bro. Dr. & General, George Ansel Sterling Ryerson, M.D., PGSD.; (1854-1925)

By V.W.Bro. Paul Skazin

Installed as Master of Ionic Lodge in 1890, appointed Grand Senior Deacon 1891 by M.W. Bro. John Ross Robertson. He affiliated with Ashlar Lodge #247 on June 22 1884 (Ashlar is often considered of sister Lodge with Ionic and the two Lodges enjoyed a close relationship over many years).He was a charter member of University Lodge joining on June 23, 1910. (Probably due to friendship with M.W. Bro. J.M. Gibson who was Charter Master) demitted November 27, 1913 possibly due to being in Ottawa and unable to attend and other pressures (WW I and the Red Cross).

He founded the Canadian Red Cross on October 16, 1896 and served as Executive Chairman and with rank of Deputy Surgeon General (with M.W.Bro. Hon. John M. Gibson as President and W.N. Ponton ((Grand Master in 1923)) as Vice President). Became President of the Society in 1914 and served for two years then resigned to allow the Dutchess of Connaught to preside.

In January 1870, although underage, he joined the Queen’s Own Rifles as a Private and participated in the Fenian Raid of 1870. Later he was Assistant Surgeon of the force that put down the 1885 North West Rebellion battle, was the Canadian Red Cross Commissioner in the 1899 Boer War, and World War One. In 1892 he founded the Association of Medical Officers of the Canadian Militia which in time led to the formation of the Canadian Army Medical Corps. He had a distinguished career as a medical officer in the military rising by 1916 to rank of Major General and set the standards for medical treatment in the military.

In his memoirs Ryerson wrote "The Red Cross Flag was first flown in Canada during the battle of Batoche, May 9-12, 1885. Batoche, Saskatchewan, was a post office at the side of a Métis Village where Louis Riel established his Head Quarters during the rebellion of 1885. Here, the main engagement took place between the Métis forces under Gabriel Dumont and the militia under General Middleton. Ryerson decided that the horse drawn springwagon, used as a makeshift ambulance, should have some mark to distinguish it from other wagons. He therefore borrowed some turkey red factory cotton from the artillery column, cut it into two strips, and stitched them unto a white square. That flag is part of the John Ross Robertson collection at the Toronto Public Library.

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