Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 39 > Page 3 - Dr. Austin MacDonald, Down North

Page 3 - Dr. Austin MacDonald, Down North

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1985/6/1 (345 reads)

me." So we did. And I went out after a- while; he was still walking back and forth. And he said, "Are you the doctor?" I said, "Yes." Told him who I was. He said, "My wife is sick, and I just wanted to be here in time, before you got called somewhere else, so you'd come see her." It turned out she was a blind lady, and that was my first medical visit there. From then on, I had no lack of work at any time. The peo? ple flocked in. Now, before I left Halifax, I got this Dr. MacLeod from Whycocomagh to draw up a list of drugs that I absolutely had to have for any kind of medical practice, and the nec? essary dressings, and the things to do up a fractured arm or leg, stuff like that. And there was a little coastal motor ves? sel, called the Josephine K She used to run from Halifax with freight for all the little outports. And these big boxes of medicines were loaded aboard of her. They would have been down there the day after we got to Neil's Harbour. Except that the next day a fog set in, and for two bloody weeks that fog never let up. And that was the worst fog I've ever seen in Cape Bret? on! So, the Josephine K. was tied up in some of these little ports around the -west end of the island, and didn't show up un? til two weeks later. By that time I had lists of patients that long written down, and what they needed in the way of medica? tions. Finally I got a telegram--there were no telephones there, but there were telegraph operators in every village--and I got a telegram from Dingwall saying the Josephine K. was in. So we hurried down and we loaded up the car with all these packages and came back. By that time the telegraph operator in Neil's Harbour spread the word, "The doctor got his medi? cines." I got back. This long line of peo? ple were at the office door waiting. So I told them they'd have to come back later, it was going to take me alii the rest of the day to just put their medicines in bot? tles and label them. Anyway, that was that. That was the big e- vent, then. And from then on, it was pret? ty standard medical practice--until the end of June. The last week of June, we got a summons from the local clergyman one af? ternoon to come to a meeting in the Orange Hall in Neil's Harbour that night. It had to do with trying to establish a hospital. A 12-year-old boy from Dingwall had devel- CAPE ST. VJRENCE CAPE NORTH I Meat '' ' Cove Bay*St. / / Lawrence/ / /to J.pieasant s'gar ' Bay Loaf ' ''py BAY .1 W'' '' SMOKEY/ oped appendicitis in the winter, and the drift ice was on the coast, so they couldn't get any ship in to get him out. And they did send a plane down, and that crashed on the ice. By the time they did get him out, he was in extremis, and he died about the time they got to North Syd? ney. So this really shook everybody up, be? cause this boy had a lot of relatives and friends. They decided there's no reason why they shouldn't have a hospital. And by 1942 the fishermen were making far better incomes than they had made for 15 or 20 years before, during the depression years. And they thought they were pretty well- heeled. And they'd put up the money and they'd have a hospital. Oh, I remember the meeting well enough. I just sat there dumbfounded at the gall these people had. And no fooling, they were going to have a hospital. They didn't know what it would cost to establish a cot? tage hospital. They didn't know how many 1 - NOTICE - Community and Church Groups Interested in: Global Issues? Reforestation? The Caribbean? Central America? Food and Agriculture? Development? Ethiopia? Third World Issues? FILMS AND SPEAKERS PROVIDED FREE OF CHARGE TELEPHONE: 539-5300 ext. 277, or 929-2063 Centre for International Studies UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF CAPE BRETON DON'S FLOWERS p. 0. Box 179, Port Hawkesbury, N. S. BOE 2V0 Serving Port Hood, Judique, Inverness, and sur? rounding areas. Telephone 625-2215 or 625-2717. Tfus Beach is your Backyard' • beautiful sandy beach to explore * Jully equipped housekeeping cottages * campsite and trailer accommodation * tennis courts * children's play area '''HH||Mtt|'r''''' feii':. '''''''''H '(3)
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