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Looking at some history of our old hospitals in the area

Some time ago a person remarked to me about the history of Burns Lake, could I put together in one of my articles. Burns Lake has a lot of history and I have at a hand the greater part of it, that I have had for years. As I was looking through some old stories I happened to notice a very interesting article on the hospitals in the Lakes District. There is a lot of history there. At present the welfare of our hospital seems to be the main topic.

The first hospital in the Lakes District was at John Keefe's ranch at Southbank in 1919. Rev. Dr. James Wallace was the first doctor to stay. Before Dr. Wallace doctors came in from Hazelton and Fort Fraser. They served the area traveling by dog team in the winter and horseback in the summer. In 1920 the first permanent doctor arrived, Dr. A Gray. As Francois Lake was still frozen over he was unable to cross until the ferry was running which he did May 20, 1920. He was just in time to deliver Mrs. Keefes baby, Marion Kennedy was the matron of this hospital.

In June 1920 the hospital moved to a new location, Prosser's Point now known as Hospital Point in Southbank. The southside kinsmen have turned this property into a park.

The first baby born there was Hector Gerow on June 20, 1920. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Don Gerow, Burns Lake. Hector was the first baby born at this new location.

In 1922 a woman doctor by name of Mosy Williams arrived at this hospital, later in 1924 Superintendent Miss. A. Moore arrived and the hospital was moved to Burns Lake. It was established in a log house at 3rd and Centre Street. This hospital served for seven years. Mrs. J. Gowans acted as assistant and granny Wilson did the cooking, laundry and general patient care. A large dining table was used as an operating table and for larger patients an extra leaf was put in the table.

The first baby born there was to Eric Erickson of Danskin Oct. 15, 1924. In 1925 a Dr. Steele came in and served for two years. Up to 1929 a Dr. Hankinson of Smithers served the area. Also in 1929 Dr. Holmes came in from Fort Fraser and served the area for over 26 years. Later on he was helped out by Dr. Green for two years, before his retirement. Dr. Holmes was a special kind of a man, no matter who it was or where they were he never refused a call, rain, snow, or bad road conditions he would always be there. He gave his everything to Burns Lake. He was a really pioneer doctor. From then on we had Dr. Thompson, Dr. Jack Matvenko, Dr. Battersby, Dr. King, and Dr. Man.

In 1931 a new hospital was built and is still standing and in good repair. It served until August 1960 when our present modern hospital was built, operating room and all. The time of lamps and dining room tables are no more but remain as history long gone. I have written this up as I have it at hand. There may be errors in dates. It is a start in the history of our Lakes District. This will no doubt give our younger generation an idea of what life was now many years ago.

This is a story that was told to me about Dr. Holmes. This happened in the first hospital in Burns Lake, there was an emergency that came in during the night and Dr. Holmes was called in. The patient had an acute appendicitis attack. There were no lights available so Dr. Holmes drove his car up to the window, put on the headlights so he could see, did the operation which was a success. This was one of the many operations Dr. Holmes did in conditions that would be frowned on by todays standards I'm sure.

On Sunday last at the Grassy Plains Church after service there was a farewell for the Tim Palmer family. We are all very sorry to see them leave us. They have been very active and helpful in the church. There was a lunch served and lots of good wishes in their new home in Revelstoke. This will be our loss and Revestoke's gain as I know they will fit into this new community as well as they did here. The best of luck to this wonderful family from us all in the Lakes District. We won't forget you.

It's Wednesday morning and it's giving us it's last shot of winter. The temperature dropped in a matter of minutes. At 6 p.m. it was plus two at 9:30 p.m. it had dropped down to minus 17, what a drop and so fast. The bay is frozen over and there are ice chunks floating around. So far we have been lucky. There is wind in the forecast so maybe it will blow out the bay again.

Thank you Mr. Neufeld for your letter, yes it's so sad that mothers can't have their babies in town. Not only is it an inconvenience to have to go out but it's an added expense and a big one. We have two in our family who are having babies in the near future so they will have to go to Prince George. One of our girls has had to go out to Prince a number of times for check ups. Every time she goes out it makes a big hole a $200 bill, also an inconvenience and big time. There are many more who are in the same boat and it's uncalled for and these births could and should be handled in our own hospital and close to home without this added expense and added pressure on the families. Please check me if you think I'm wrong.

A great picture and write up by a Mrs. Ray bringing to light her family history. About a month ago a very similar thing came up in our family. My brother Peter came across two diaries that had been written by my father, H.H. Neave, and our uncle Will Neave. These were written in 1907 and 1908 telling of their homesteading days in the cutknife district and the Eyehill as well. This was in Saskatchewan where it all began. These stories and pictures were sent to their parents and family in England and had come to light after over 100 years. Where they had been hidden is a mystery for so long. We never realized the terrible hardships these men went through until we saw and read these stories and saw these old pictures. Brother Peter and his wife Madeleine put these stories and pictures into a book and gave each of our family one. What a treasure these records are and so much work to put it all together.

An error in my last news I would like to correct: Lunches that are put on every other Tuesday are put on by the Burns Lake senior society, not by the legion, my mistake sorry. Thanks to the lady who has just phoned me.

A code of the west from an old cowboy: Write it in your heart, stand by the code, and it will stand by you. Ask no more and give no less than honesty, courage, loyalty, generosity, and fairness. You don't need decorated words to make your meaning clear, say it plain and save some breath for breathing. If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Never grumble, it makes you about as popular as a skunk at a church picnic and above all never squat with your spurs on.

Take care now, and have a good safe week and always remember God loves you and so do I.

P.S. My son Mark and his wife Laurie drove to Kamloops, hats off two L.D.M., the roads were good to Priestly Hill and were terrible to Vanderhoof. They saw two bad accidents on that piece of road. One was a Burns Lake person. This was on Wednesday.