Medicine in Pioneer Days

In Alix, Alberta on August 19, 2016 at 12:00 PM

From “Medicine in Pioneer Days” by Dr. A.E. Shore

“I commenced the practice of “Medicine” in rural Alberta in 1911 and rented the Dr. Graham building as my office and used the upstairs for a small hospital which accommodated four or five patients. Dr.Graham was the second doctor who served the Alix area and was appreciated by all.

During this period … the doctors in rural areas did not have access to X-rays, laboratories, consultants etc., but had to rely on one’s own resources and abilities. Frequently the doctor had to drive with horses many miles to examine patients. He had to take equipment with him as he did not know what the patient’s disability was until his examination was completed. Most roads were mud in the Spring and Summer seasons and snow in Winter. So, the automobile was impractical most of the year.

My early hospital training as an Intern extended over a period of nearly two years. However, with all that training it was impossible to see all the various ailments and injuries to which the human body is subjected. I had been only a few days in Alix when I was called to attend to a patient who had been knocked down by a bull. I naturally expected to find broken bones. I had never seen a patient with a dislocated hip. On examination, one leg appeared longer than the other which gave a clue to the diagnosis. I gave him chloroform anesthesia and with manipulations, the dislocation was reduced in a few minutes.

Also during the first few days, I had two cases of appendicitis. The first was operated on and the recovery was incomplete in the usual time and the patient is still living. The second was a young lad of fourteen. He was brought in on a stretcher and had been ill for a few days. He had a ruptured appendix. I opened the abdomen and put in drainage, but he died the next day from peritonitis. The Calgary branch of the GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC railways was under construction and there were patients with injuries most of the year of 1912. I had frequent trips by hand car to visit patients with injuries South of the Red Deer River.”

This article is from the book Pioneers and Progress, a history of the Alix-Clive area printed in 1974by DW Friesen and Sons Ltd., Calgary. Copies of it and of its follow-up Gleanings are available for sale at the Alix Public Library, Alix Wagon Wheel Museum, and Alix Home Hardware.

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