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Authors: George Burden

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Amazing Medical Stories

BOOK: Amazing Medical Stories
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AMAZING MEDICAL STDRIES

AMAZING MEDICAL STDRIES

George Burden & Dorothy Grant

Copyright © George Burden, 2003.
Copyright © Dorothy Grant, 2003.

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any requests for photocopying of any part of this book should be directed in writing to the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency.

Edited by Sabine Campbell.
Cover illustration “science 19 – Surgeons Operating” by Eyewire.
Cover and interior design by Paul Vienneau.
Printed in Canada by Transcontinental Printing.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Burden, George, 1955-
Amazing medical stories / George Burden, Dorothy Grant.

Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-86492-347-3

1. Medicine — History — Miscellanea. I. Grant, Dorothy, 1935- II. Title.

R705.B87 2003    610'.9    C2003-900484-8

Published with the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program, and the New Brunswick Culture and Sports Secretariat.

Goose Lane Editions
Suite 330, 500 Beaverbrook Court
Fredericton, New Brunswick
CANADA E3B 1E5

www.gooselane.com

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

Acknowledgements

THE DEATH OF THE FRENCH ARMADA

ABRAHAM GESNER
A Doctor Ahead of His Time

HENRY MOON
The Lunar Rogue

CATHERINE ANN THOMPSON
The Silenced Witness

ANGUS MCASKILL
A Giant Among Men

THE REVEREND JOHN CAMERON
Diphtheria “Doctor”

ANNA SWAN
The Gentle Giantess

DR. DANIEL HALE WILLIAMS
The First Heart Surgeon

THE DOCTOR AND THE KING OF SIAM

ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL
Medical Inventor

THE PHYSICIANS OF THE
TITANIC

A DREADFUL TASK
The Undertakers and the
Titanic
Disaster

THE HALIFAX EXPLOSION
Taking Care of the Victims

DR. JOHN BRINKLEY
An Infamous Quack

DR. ROBERT WRIGHT
Snowmobile Pioneer

FERDINAND DEMARA
The Great Impostor

DR. R. ARNOLD BURDEN
Springhill Rescuer

STEPHEN WEAVER
“Phony Doc Jailed — But Patients Want Him Back”

DOCTOR ON THE RUN

A TIME TO GRIEVE

Further Readings

Index

INTRODUCTION

A
mazing Medical Stories
is a potpourri of true and unusual tales that run the gamut from the tragic to the humorous, from the inspirational to the bizarre. These stories are about great doctors and about charlatans and quacks. They deal with people who pretended to be doctors, with non-physicians who gave important medical gifts, and with medical doctors who gave surprising non-medical gifts to the world. Many take place outside Canada, but all have a link to Canada.

We discovered the treasure trove of Canadian medical history independently. George's training to become a family physician piqued a lively curiosity as to exactly how, medically, we got to where we are today. In the early 1990s, he discovered that Tourette Syndrome may have afflicted the early Roman emperors. Encouraged by Dr. Oliver Sacks, the celebrated American neurologist, and CBC Radio's
Quirks and Quarks
, he next explored the practice of medicine in ancient Egypt. Then, digging into his own country's past, he discovered gold: intriguing stories, unknown to most people, yet begging to be told.

Dorothy's background as a nurse, reporter, and medical society employee infected her with the desire to investigate the mysteries of historical and contemporary medicine. As determined as a medical researcher hell bent on finding a cure for a disease, she relished the detective work, poring over old newspapers and books and tracking down pictures, some more than a hundred years old.

Each of us has published many medical history stories in periodicals, especially
The Medical Post
and
The Halifax Sunday Herald
. Individually, as we wove our stories, we dreamed of gathering them into a book, but it was only when George started to investigate the logistics of actually doing
so that we met, first by telephone and then in person. Our shared compulsion to explore and recount the amazing, inspiring, and occasionally very strange stories we had uncovered made us decide to amalgamate our findings in a book to share with others.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the pleasure of finding the captivating tales in
Amazing Medical Stories
. If you'd like to explore these subjects more deeply, we hope you'll be tempted to read some of the articles and books we relished so much; you'll find a list on page 121. We hope that some of our
Amazing Medical Stories
will earn a permanent place in your own repertoire and that you will entertain family and friends with your favourites for years to come.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

M
any people have helped directly and indirectly with this book, and I am very grateful to them all. I'd especially like to thank Colin Leslie, Leo Charbonneau, Celia Milne and other editors of
The Medical Post
, and Paul O'Connell, of
The Halifax Sunday Herald
, for boosting me into the world of freelance writing. Dr. Jock Murray and the medical writers' group at Dalhousie University have been invaluable in the development of my writing, and I'm also grateful to Dr. Murray and to Dr. Oliver Sacks for their encouragement.

I am grateful to the many individuals and institutions who have given me their help and support, especially Roxanne Leadlay, Aynsley Mac-Farlane and Jess Fraser, Bell Museum, Baddeck, Nova Scotia; Lynn-Marie Richard and the staff of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax; Heather Gillis, Fortress Louisbourg; Frances Lourie, Bridgetown Heritage Society; Regina Mantin, New Brunswick Museum; Val White,
The Medical Post
; and Gary Shutlack, Senior Reference Archivist at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia.

I want to thank the people who have assisted with specific stories, including Dr. Stephen Bedwell, an expert in the ailments of the Duc d'Anville; Dale Swan, great-nephew of Anna Swan, and Dr. Carl Abbott and Dr. Ralph Loebenberg, who helped me to diagnose Swan's final illness; Lorna Johnson, whose references led me to Henry Moon; and the Fundy Geological Museum, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, which inspired the story about Abraham Gesner. Lois Yorke, Public Archives of Nova Scotia, and journalist Bruce Nunn enabled me to find the descendants of Anna Leonowens, and Dr. Avis Boyar and Thomas Fyshe contributed information and photos of their grandfather. Grant MacDonald helped me with
the story about the Reverend John Cameron; Mrs. Ritta Wright and Dr. Robert Wright told me about the mechanical sleigh; and Dr. Arnold Burden provided much information about the Springhill mine disasters.

Above all, I am grateful to my wife, Krista Burden, and our family for tolerating Daddy's spending so much time in front of the computer. Thanks also to the staff of Goose Lane Editions for making the dream of my first book a reality. And finally, thanks to Dorothy, my co-author, whose good cheer and sense of humour helped me through the sometimes difficult creative process.

George Burden

While working on
Amazing Medical Stories
, I met some extremely helpful and enthusiastic people, and I wish to express my sincere thanks to those who shared their wisdom. Many librarians and archivists have done exceptional sleuthing on my behalf. I am very grateful to Gary Shutlack, Senior Reference Archivist at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia and an expert on the
Titanic
disaster. The staff at the Keshen Goodman Library, Halifax, were unfailingly helpful, especially Marilyn Baldwin, Ron Bulmer, Gail Tattrie, Denise Vila and Sarah Wenning, as were the reference staff of the Spring Garden Road Library and Patrick Ellis and the staff of the Kellogg Health Sciences Library, Dalhousie University, Halifax. I am also grateful to Arlene Shaner, Reference Librarian, New York Academy of Medicine Library. I offer my sincere thanks to Finn Bower, the Curator of the Shelburne County Museum, and to Dr. Allan Marble and his associates at the Medical History Museum of Nova Scotia Society for their kind help. I owe a special debt of gratitude to my editors, Colin Leslie and Valerie White at
The Medical Post
and Christine Soucie and Claire McIlveen at
The Halifax Sunday Herald
.

I am particularly grateful for the constant and uncomplaining support of my husband, Bill Grant, who continues to be a faithful booster despite the fact that, although we are supposedly retired, my attention is often
focused, not on him, but on the computer. For me, co-authoring
Amazing Medical Stories
was a wonderful learning experience. One important lesson was that book publication demands teamwork at its best, and I am grateful to George, an outstanding collaborator. Almost from the moment George and I learned that Goose Lane Editions would publish our book, I realized that I needed the assistance of a league of highly qualified, patient and committed colleagues. I am convinced that my contribution to this book would not have happened without their generous assistance, their patience, and their guidance.

Dorothy Grant

Versions of many of the chapters in
Amazing Medical Stories
have been previously published. Those appearing in
The Medical Post
are: “The Death of Duc D'Anville”; “A Geological MD”; “A Giant Among Men”; “From Preacher to Physician”; “The Giantess of Nova Scotia”; “Dr. Williams: The Greatest Black Surgeon of His Time”; “The Doctors and I”; “Teacher of the Deaf”; “Titanic Doctors Boarded Disaster”; “Master of Deception”; “Digging Up Disaster”; “‘Doc' Weaver: Nova Scotia's Physician Imposter“‘Doc' Weaver: Nova Scotia's Physician Imposter”; “The Doctor Who Wasn't There”; “Doctor in Profile: A Time to Grieve.”

Stories appearing in
The Halifax Sunday Herald
are: “This Officer Was No Gentleman”; “Infamous Dr. Brinkley”; “Pioneer Surgeon”; “‘Doc' Weaver: Nova Scotia's Physician Imposter.”

Articles appearing in other periodicals include: “The Tragedy of Catherine Thompson [1846],”
Nova Scotia Historical Quarterly
; “The Blast That Rocked Nova Scotia,”
Family Practice
; “Dr. Wright's Mechanical Sleigh,”
Family Practice
.

BOOK: Amazing Medical Stories
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ads

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