Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 39 > Page 1 - Dr. Austin MacDonald, Down North

Page 1 - Dr. Austin MacDonald, Down North

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1985/6/1 (1592 reads)
 

Dr. Austin MacDonald, Down North I got married the day after I found out I was going to graduate in medicine. See, Ma? rie was a public health nurse, and she had already been working for two years in Hants and Colchester Counties. We had in? tended for some years, whenever I gradu? ated and knew what I was going to do, to get married. And I knew in March of 1942 what I was going to do, because the Nova Scotia Minister of Health called me into his office one day, along with the M.L.A. from Victoria County here, who was John Sam Campbell, and a doctor from Whycoco? magh who was a native of Neil's Harbour, Dr. M. G. MacLeod. Anyhow, we all went down to see the Minis? ter of Health, and he laid it on the line. He said, "These fish plants down there are having increasing difficulty getting New? foundland fish cutters and workers and can? ners over because there's no doctor in the area." Although they had a nurse, but the nurse could only do limited repair work, if they cut themselves badly or broke a limb, things like that. (These are fish plants north of Smokey?) Really, from Bay St. Lawrence to Smokey. (The people in charge of these fish plants,) with all these Newfoundlanders to look after--they were driving (them) right up the wall. They came from fishing vil? lages along the south coast of Newfound? land. They were brought over in groups to the various fish plants and installed in groups. They had to leave their girl friends at home, usually. And after they were here two months, they went nuts. The local girls didn't want to have too much to do with them, you see, there were too many of them. And these young fellows, they simply didn't know what to do. They used to get all kinds of psychosomatic illnesses. And at first, I was as fooled as the people in charge of these plants. After a month or two, I realized that these fellows were in, for them, a very abnormal situation. They left Newfoundland. They'd never seen a car in their lives, for in? stance. And everything was changed. And they wanted a doctor. They wanted a doctor to talk to. They'd fake every kind of illness just to see a doctor. But there was no doctor. And this was what put the political pressure on Johnny Sam Campbell, who was the M.L.A., and threw him to the Minister of Health, who was at that time the man from Liverpool in Queens County-- F. R. Davis--he was a surgeon himself, a very good one, too. And he's the man that called me into his office along with John? ny Sam and Dr. MacLeod from Whycocomagh. And they didn't have any kid gloves that day at all! CAPE BRETON'S MAGAZINE, NUMBER THIRTY-NINE WRECK COVE, CAPE BRETON, NOVA SCOTIA SECOND CLASS MAIL -- REGISTRATION NUMBER 3014 (1)
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