Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 39 > Page 2 - Dr. Austin MacDonald, Down North

Page 2 - Dr. Austin MacDonald, Down North

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1985/6/1 (446 reads)

They said, "You're going north, and you're going to work there for one year. You'll have the people who are native there, and you'll have perhaps another 500 or more who are import Newfoundlanders. And you'll have whatever other people happen to get off the road and break a leg while they're down there. You have no hospital. In the wintertime you have no open roads. You'll have to have horses, and all the equipment to go with them." This didn't bother me, because I had been brought up in a village (Whycocomagh) where that was the way of life, too. And they knew this. And I said, "I want to go in the army." "No," they said, "this is where you go. But next year you can go in the army. We'll release you at the end of a year." I said I had no money to buy the instruments. "I have no money to buy drugs." "We'll fix that. We'll give you an honorarium of a thousand dollars for one year to go down there." Since there was no argument avail? able anyhow, that's where we went. So I told Marie--this was in March. We got married on the 8th of May. And I finished out my exams and everything by June. And on the 9th of June, 1942, we went down to Neil's Harbour. Marie had a car for her work in the public health. I didn't even know how to drive a car at that time. (And in 1942, you could drive over Smokey?) Yes. In the summertime. In the wintertime you couldn't drive anywhere there. It wasn't paved until the mid-1950s. So, I remember we got to the top of Smokey that night, and Marie stopped. She said. "We'd better see how much money we have left." I had none, and she had exactly 5 dollars when she added up all the pennies and nickels and dimes. She said, "What''s the best thing to do with this?" We had found that we could rent a house that be? longed to the Buchanans in Neil's Harbour. $25 a month. They didn't ask, fortunately, for any rent in advance. "Well," I said, "you'd better put half of it in gas in the car, and the rest of it, we'll buy food." Now, my mother had given us several loaves of bread in Whycocomagh, and some jam and some butter and stuff like that, so we weren't too badly off. And a bag of oat? meal for my porridge. So, we thought we were adequately prepared, and we drove to Neil's Harbour. It was dark when we got there. The last doctor that had been there was a year and a half before. And he didn't like the win? ters there, so he left. And that's what happened to most of the doctors during the 1930s, most of them only stayed a year. They couldn't take the winter where you'd have to travel all the time from house to house. Okay, we got there. We went to bed. And we thought nobody knew we were there, because in the dark, you didn't see anybody. Actu? ally, there were about 500 pairs of eyes in Neil's Harbour, so they all knew we were there. In the morning when we got up after daylight and looked out--there was a man with a cane walking back and forth back of the house. I said to Marie, "We'd better get something to eat, and I'll go out and see if this man is looking for Want the Ihside Stort Oh EXTRA! EXTRA! Available right in Sydney" • intrigue at Government House during thfe Wentworth years • life aboard a Nova Scotian trading ship in the late 1800s • struggles of the Loyalists to rebuild their shattered lives in the town of Shelburne • how to entertain lavishly or simply with seafood • what to look for when buying or building a home • the little-known lives of Nova Scotia's reptiles and amphibians.. These and many more stories are under cover at the Nova Scotia Government Information Office in Sydney. Gome in and browse; we're located at the Cabinet Office, 3rd Floor, Provincial Building, 360 Prince Street. Or phone us at 539-7235. If you spot something you like, we'll be happy to order it for you from the Nova Scotia Government Bookstore in Halifax. A catalogue with complete subject listings is available free upon request. Department of Government Services (2)
Cape Breton's Magazine
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