Surgeon braved hardship for patients

Dr. T.C. Holmes. (Lakes District Museum Society photo)

Convincing physicians to come to Burns Lake has never been an easy task, and getting them to stay an even more difficult one.

Dr. T.C. Holmes was a notable exception. Holmes arrived here in 1929 to begin 27 years of service to the area.

Holmes was a surgeon and a specialist in obstetrics. It’s said that he never refused a call, and on more than one occasion risked his own life to save one. Little deterred him; he declined social invitations that placed him beyond reach of his patients, and would ski or snowshoe to reach people in need of his services.

Dr. Holmes shared the hardships of the Depression with understanding and humour. Money being in short supply, he willingly accepted whatever compensation his patients could provide. During those difficult years, he never lacked for firewood and had enough moose meat and poultry hanging from his back porch to feed an army.

If the good doctor had one vice, it was scrabble. He played the game with a vengeance, often using words his opponents had never heard before. When challenged, he would calmly declare the unpronounceable string of letters to be a “medical term.”

When Dr. Holmes retired from practice in November 1955, tributes written by grateful residents filled the local newspaper.

© 2018 Michael Riis-Christianson and the Lakes District Museum Society

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