Minnie Estelle Robbins was born in Wellandport, Ontario in 1892.
In 1910 she left for Boston, Massachusetts to take nurses training. After she graduated she returned to Ontario where she worked as an industrial nurse assisting factory workers and their families. When war broke out she wanted to serve, so she paid her own way overseas in 1915 with the intention of enlisting as a nurse with the British Army.
She joined the Queen Alexandria’s Imperial Nursing Service and was posted to France where she served on the front lines. After the war she returned to England where she nursed during the great flu epidemic of 1919. After she returned to Canada, she married a soldier she had met during the war at a field hospital, Archibald Brown.