Category Archives: Medicine

Hurry Up and Wait No More!

English: Breat Cancer ribbons


I was approached a while back and was asked whether I’d like to tell my cancer story for an upcoming book.  It didn’t take me long to decide.  If my story could help someone, then of course I would do it.  My experience with cancer, after all, was made less complicated because of all the women who went through the medical system before me.  They set the bar, through their pain and experience, so that women like me could benefit.

I just got an e-mail from Collette A. Henry, editor of the book Hope Shining Through The Darkness Of Cancer.  The book is now available.  An e-book for now.  I took the time to read other stories in the book.  Courage is a word that easily comes to mind.   It also brought back a lot of memories I thought I had crushed.

So if you, or someone close to you, has breast cancer, (or other cancer issues) I recommend this book!


Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Medicine, Publishing, Uncategorized


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Can You Pass The Smell Test?


The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) needs 10,000 people over 60 who do not have Parkinson’s to take a simple smell survey online. Share this infographic on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to help spread the word.


Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Actor/Actress, Medicine, Notable Canadians, postaday


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The Battery-less Radio

English: Roberts radio receiver

English: Roberts radio receiver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know that a Canadian is responsible for the battery-less radio?

Edward Samuel Rogers, Sr., was born on June 21, 1900 in Toronto, Ontario.

He was interested in radio as early as 11 years old. As early as 1913, he was noted in local newspapers for his skill at operating a radio station, which at the time was an impressive technical accomplishment.

In the early 1920s, radio transmitters and receivers ran on large and expensive batteries to give the high voltages needed for the vacuum tubes that were used.

By 1925 he had introduced not only a complete radio receiver using the new tubes, but had also produced a “battery eliminator” (power supply),  to eliminate the expensive batteries. On August 26, 1925, the Rogers Battery-less radio was in commercial sales.  It was the first radio receiver in the world to run from household current.

At a time when a schoolteacher might earn $1000 per year, the top-of-the-line Rogers radio sold for $370.

Ted Rogers died suddenly on May 6, 1939 (at the early age of 38), due to complications of a haemorrhage, and was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto.


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Quacks in Wagons

When the American Revolutionary War ended, Canada benefited from an influx of 30,000 United Empire Loyalists.  They changed the entire complexion of the British North American colonies, especially Upper Canada.

The newcomers faced severe problems.  They also created problems for the communities in which they settled.  A rapidly increasing population made it necessary to provide streets, schools and other public services.

There was a great shortage of doctors.  As late as 1815, there were only forty qualified medical men in Upper Canada!  The result was that there were a great many hucksters touring the countryside, selling “wonder medicines” from wagons.  They were colourful and entertaining, but their drugs were often little more than coloured water, with perhaps some unpleasant flavouring to make them seem effective.

Sometimes the hucksters would bring an entertainment troupe with them and put on shows.  During each performance, there was a  pause while the huckster extolled the virtues of his medicines.  Sales were good, but the few medical men were furious!

In 1838, an editorial in the Toronto Patriot said: “Quacks are an intolerable nuisance in any city where empiricism and radicalism go hand in hand.  It is a monstrous grievance that our government should allow the province to swarm with these pestilent vagabonds, every one of whom is a Yankee loafer.”

Attempts had been made to regulate the practice of medicine.  Dr. John Rolph English: College of Physicians and Surgeons of...

tried to form a medical school in Toronto in 1824, but became involved in politics.  After taking part in the Rebellion of 1837, he had to flee to the United States.  he was pardoned in 1843 and returned to Toronto, where he resumed his school.  It became part of the University of Toronto, where he resumed his school.  It became part of the University of Toronto in 1887.

The outcry against “quacks” became so great that the legislature passed an act in 1939 incorporating the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Upper Canada.  It examined candidates for licenses to practise medicine in the province.  In this way the situation was gradually brought under control.  On August 15, 1866, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons received  a charter at Kingston, Ontario.

You can learn more at Queen’s University‘s website..


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The Policeman Never Came Back

Frances Shelley Wees, in a wonderful prose-poem called A Geography Lesson, described the Rockies:

They are like giants sleeping under a ragged green blanket piled with snow.  Some day, you think, watching them crowd up against the sky, some day they will wake, or turn in their dreaming, and shatter the world.”

Occasionally the Rockies have turned in their dreaming, or perhaps just shuddered a little, and results have been devastating.  On May 22, 1902, the little mining town of Coal Creek, near Fernie, experienced disaster when a tremor cause the cave-in of a coal mine and 128 men were killed.

After the Coal Creek disaster, a police officer, Constable Stevens, in town said openly that he wished a few hundred more men had been killed.  The miners who were left held a court-martial and were ready to hang him.  Calmer heads prevailed.  They stripped him of his uniform and hustled him through all the mining towns of Alberta, showing him off.  The police officer never came back.

Life was exciting in the foothills of the Rockies in those days.  There was danger from nature, Indians, wild animals and rustlers from the north and south.  During the Klondike gold rush, the Northwest Mounted Police chased out as many of the gamblers, swindlers and suspected murderers as they could.  Many of them went to the mining towns like Fernie.  The gamblers would wait for the pay days

English: Boys move coal cars at the entrance t...

Boys move coal cars at the entrance to the Knoxville Iron Company’s mine near Coal Creek (now Lake City) in the U.S. state of Tennessee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

of the miners and railway construction workers, and take their money from them.  There were thirteen hotels in the Crowsnest Pass, running wide open and the gamblers would get most of the workers’ money between Saturday and Monday.

The only doctor in the area, Saul Bonnell, worked for the C.P.R.  He spent most of his time patching broken heads and stitching up wounds from knife fights.  During 1898, when the Crowsnest Pass was under construction, there was a typhoid epidemic.  Dr. Bonnell would have as many as sixty patients lying on the straw.

I just learned about Discovery Channel making a movie in just west of Calgary, Alberta. You must read the Calgary Herald newspaper article! Thanks Shelli!

For further reading, I suggest a few places, such as The Vancouver Sun for a great photo, and then Crowsnest, B.C. has many articles about this, and When Coal Was King, provided by Wayback Archives, and finally there’s The Free Press from Fernie.B.C.


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“Don’t Make a Fuss!”

Dr. Emily Stowe

Dr. Emily Stowe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Jennie Trout (April 21, 1841 – November 10, 1921)  and Emily Stowe (May 1, 1831 – April 29, 1903) were both activists for women’s rights and suffrage, and campaigned for Canada‘s first medical college for women. But even more impressive, they were both the first two women to practice medicine in Canada!  Their stories intertwine, so I’ll include both stories here.

Emily Stowe was born in Norwich Township, Oxford County, Ontario.  At the age of 15, she became a teacher at a simple one-room schoolhouse in Summerville.  After about seven years, she became entangled in a public struggle for admission to Victoria College in Cobourg, Ontario, for the simple reason that she was a woman. Then, in November 1853, she applied at the Normal School of Upper Canada; she graduated with first-class honours in 1854.  Soon afterwards, she was hired as a principal in a Brantford, Ontario public school; she became the first woman to become a principal of a public school in Upper Canada.

In 1856, she married John Michael Stowe.  In the next seven years, she had three children.  Shortly after the birth of her third child, her husband was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and was sent to  a sanatorium.  This led Stowe to renew an interest in medicine.

In 1865, she was denied entrance into the Toronto School of Medicine.  The school’s Vice President said, “The doors of the University are not open to women, and I trust they never will be.”  So she attended and graduated from the homoeopathic New York Medical College.  She then returned to Canada and opened a practice in Toronto, Ontario.

Jennie Trout (sometimes spelled Jenny) was born in Kelso, Scotland, and moved to Canada with her parents in 1847, settling near Stratford, Ontario. She attended school, graduated, and went on to take a course in teaching. She taught up until her marriage to Edward Trout in 1865.  Two years later, she moved to Toronto, where her husband ran a newspaper.

Motivated by her chronic illness, a “nervous disorder” that often left her almost an invalid, Trout decided on a medical career.

In 1870, both women fought together to attend classes at the Toronto School of Medicine.  They were allowed to attend, by special arrangement, on the condition that they agreed “not to make a fuss.”

They didn’t have an easy time of it.  The professors and male students alike made their lives very difficult.  One way they caused “a fuss” for the women was by telling smutty stories.  So disgusting the stories were that Trout told one student that if he continued with these stories within earshot, she would tell his wife exactly what he was saying.  That seemed to work, as there were no more stories like that.

Emily Stowe chose to ignore the licensing requirements of taking a written and oral exam.  She started a private practice and ran it for thirteen years; and it’s entirely possible she paid the  $100 penalty, no one knows how many times, for not having qualified to practice medicine in Canada.  She was forty-nine when her license was finally granted in 1880.

Jenny Trout, however, did take the exam, and graduated in 1875.  She became the first Canadian woman licensed to practise medicine.

Each of these women pursued their intention of having a career in medicine at a time when it was unthinkable for women to entertain the thought.  They each accomplished their goals, each in their own way.

I’ve picked here and there for this story.  Mainly three sources:  The first is Rootsweb Ancestry, a well-written article written by Lois Bradley, I believe; the second source is a wonderful book, Just a minute: Glimpses of our great Canadian heritage, the first book in the Heritage series; and finally, Wikipedia – for Emily Stowe and Jenny Trout.

Heritage Minutes is a great resource for learning about Canada and Canadians. To watch a short video about Jenny Trout and Emily Stowe, visit Heritage Minutes.


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4th Greatest Canadian

Letter To Banting From Child Who Had Diabetes

Letter from Betsy, a child with diabetes. Source: He conquered death : the story of Frederick Grant Banting by Margaret Mason Shaw — Toronto : Macmillan, 1946. — 111 p., [11] leaves of plates : ill., ports., facsim. ; 21 cm. © Public Domain nlc-12101

On January 23, 1922, 14-year-old Leonard Thompson, who was dying from complications due to  diabetes at the Toronto General Hospital, was injected with the first purified preparation of insulin.  His condition improved.  Dramatically!

Who were this boy’s heroes?  Frederick Banting, his assistant Charles Best, J.B. Collip, and fellow colleagues, who all worked under the direction of Professor Macleod.

As soon as it was reasonable to call it a success, the University of Toronto immediately gave pharmaceutical companies license to produce insulin, free of royalties!

By 1923, Frederick Banting was the most famous man in Canada. He received letters and gifts from hundreds of grateful diabetics all over the world. Banting and Macleod received the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Banting shared the award money with his colleague, Dr. Charles Best.  Macleod shared his with Collip.

Dr. Banting returned to his love of painting and became a sketching companion of Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson.

In 1934, Banting was part of the last group of Canadians to be knighted by King George V.

As war loomed in Europe, Banting was excited about contributing to the war effort for Canada. On February 21, 1941, as he was leaving on a secret scientific mission to Great Britain, his plane crashed in Newfoundland and he was killed instantly.

On April 5, 2004, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), produced The Greatest Canadian.  A television program in which Canadians voted to determine who is considered to be the greatest Canadian of all time. Frederick Banting was voted in 4th place.

To read his September 15, 1925 Nobel Speech, go to The Official Web site for the Nobel Prize. For media clips, you can find no better place than CBC Archives. For more on Frederick Banting, I do recommend starting at

English: C. H. Best and F. G. Banting ca. 1924

C. H. Best and F. G. Banting ca. 1924 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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