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Winthrop Pickard Bell: Hazel Lawrence (Deinstadt) Bell

A virtual exhibition that pays tribute to an illustrious alumnus of Mount Allison University.

Hazel Lawrence (Deinstadt) Bell


Dr. Winthrop Bell's wife was Hazel Lawrence Deinstadt. She was born on October 7, 1889, in Saint John, New Brunswick, the daughter of the Rev. Thomas J. Deinstadt (1840-1926) and Rebecca McCallum (Beer) Deinstadt (d. 1922). She attended the Mount Allison Ladies College between 1908 and 1910 in keeping with the family tradition. During 1911 she spent much of the year visiting with family and friends in Toronto, Ontario, and furthering her studies in voice and china painting. She subsequently trained as a nurse in a hospital in Toronto.

During the First World War, Hazel joined the war effort by offering her services as a nursing sister for the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) of the Canadian Red Cross. She arrived in England in January of 1916, and two months later was posted at a temporary British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France.

At the onset of war, the Duc de Penthièvre had made the significant contribution of his castle to the French government and by 1915 the property had been transformed into a temporary hospital, governed under the direction of Madeline Bromley-Martin. Though the patients were predominantly French nationals, the hospital staff was made up of volunteers from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and the United States. Two floors of the castle were transformed into hospital wards, the large rooms accommodating 110 beds, with a hospice on the outskirts of town capable of lodging another 70 patients in recovery. Arc-en-Barrois was only forty miles from the firing line, not far from Verdun, but the beautiful natural surroundings provided recovering soldiers with a respite from the muddy trenches at the Front. [1]

Hazel often wrote home describing her experiences. One of her postcards, held in the Mount Allison University Archives, reads: "Dear family, this is a great place and I am having a great time, but do not seem to get much time to write letters. I love it here it is perfectly dandy. I do wish you could see the place. Will write tonight. H." [2] Hazel sometimes alludes to the wounded men under her care, calling them by the French term blessés. The postcards present the polarized experience of the Canadian nurse who delighted in the opportunity to travel while simultaneously grappling with the gravity and horridness of war: “There are heaps of blessés now all right, and they are horribly wounded, you cannot imagine anything like it," she writes on the back of one postcard, continuing on only far enough to say "This is a picture of one of our very few streets, it looks this natural. Hazel.” [3, 4]

She returned home to Saint John in the fall of 1918 after the close of hostilities.  The hospital was demobilized in 1919. She later wrote that the years immediately after the war were very hard emotionally on her and she suffered with bouts of depression.

Hazel Deinstadt, ca. 1910s

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 2009.19/1. May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

First World War gallery


Hazel sitting with unidentified men in uniform on the steps of the temporary British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois,

Haute Marne, France, where she worked as a nurse during the First World War.

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 60

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

 

Staff of the British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France, 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 97

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Soldiers disembarking a wounded man from a Red Cross vehicle

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 41

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Castle where the British set up a temporary hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 42

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Nurse and patient at the British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 68

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Nurses and patients at the British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 70.

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Kitchen at the temporary British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 76

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

10th Army on their way to Verdun in France, August 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 59

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

10th Army on their way to Verdun in France, August 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 59

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Street in [Lanquais?], France, 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 58

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

View of Arc-en-Barrois, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 1

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Wounded soldiers on the grounds of the temporary British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, France, ca. 1918

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 101

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Nurses with their patients on the grounds of the British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/2 p. 40

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Hazel and two unidentified men with a Red Cross vehicle

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 66

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Church in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 42

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Nursing sisters at a cottage in Arc-en-Barrois, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 96

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Hazel with one of her patients in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France, 31 August 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/2 p. 41

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

J. Drakam in Arc-en-Barrois, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 11

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Chaumont station (Gare de Chaumont) in Haute Marne, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 38

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Common room for soldiers at the temporary British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 78

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Wounded soldiers from Senegal at the temporary British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 88

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Wounded soldiers at the temporary British hospital in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France, ca. 1916

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 72

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Nursing sisters at Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France enjoying an outdoors lunch

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 82

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Village wedding in Arc-en-Barrois, Haute Marne, France, 1918

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 111

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Hazel boarding a train with Mr. B. and Elsie in France, September 1918

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/17/10/3 p. 97

May only be reproduced with permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Hazel Deinstadt would have been well known to Winthrop Bell since his brother had married her sister Marguerite in 1910. His diaries provide evidence of occasional visits to the Deinstadt home in Saint John after his return from Europe and during his years spent teaching at Harvard University prior to his marriage.

On the occasion of her thirty-sixth birthday on October 7, 1925, Hazel Deinstadt married Winthrop Bell in a private ceremony at the Bell family home, 'Boulderwood', in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The couple went back to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1926 so that Winthrop could continue his work there. They returned to the Maritimes in 1927 taking up residence in Lockeport, Nova Scotia, where Dr. Bell was involved with his brother's fishing company. In 1934 the couple relocated to Chester Basin, Nova Scotia, where they oversaw the construction of their new home, 'Drumnaha', in the nearby Village of Chester.  They moved into their new residence in April of 1936.

During World War II Hazel Bell was actively involved with the work of the Canadian Red Cross and looked after small children from England until health troubles and exhaustion restricted her from continuing as care-giver. In 1944 the children returned home to England. Her health was not reasonably restored until 1945. In 1947 she reported to friends in Germany that she was also suffering from rheumatism. In 1951 she suffered through a case of the shingles and later in the decade began a battle with glaucoma. In 1962 she had a serious fall and subsequent accident which caused her to be bed-ridden for much of the year.  This gradually weakened her health until she was forced to reside in an extended care facility.

Hazel Bell died in the Mahone Nursing Home in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia on January 24th, 1966, her husband having predeceased her on April 4, 1965. She was buried beside her husband in the Old Baptist Burying Grounds adjacent to their home in Chester, Nova Scotia.


[1] Laurence Binyon, For Dauntless France: An Account of Britain’s Aid to the French Wounded and Victims of the War (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1918), 145.

[2] Postcard sent from Hazel Deinstadt to her family. Stamped 25 March 1916. Mount Allison University Archives. Hazel Lawrence (Deinstadt) fonds, 2004.13/3

[3] Postcard sent from Hazel Deinstadt to her family. Stamped 20 March 1916. Mount Allison University Archives. Hazel Lawrence (Deinstadt) fonds, 2004.13/3

[4] Renée Belliveau. "Postcards and Photographs: Hazel (Deinstadt) Bell's Experience as a WWI Nursing Sister in Arc-en-Barrois, France." Mount Allison University, HIST 4101, April 2017.