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Doctors & Pharmacy


The doctor in a small Prairie town had many duties. The doctor fixed broken limbs, diagnosed and treated illnesses, delivered babies, and pulled teeth if there was no dentist in town. The doctor sometimes traveled to the patient’s home if the person was unable to come to town. There were no hospitals in the early days and not all towns even had a doctor.

The inside of a doctor’s medical bag is shown with glass containers of different medicines.

When doctors visited their patients at their homes, it was called a house call. This is the inside of a medicine bag that doctors would bring on house calls. It is a leather bag that has several glass bottles of herbs, tinctures, medicines, and ointments.

Doctors in small towns had many duties to keep their patients healthy.

A young woman dressed as a nurse is standing on the front steps of a wooden house.


This is a nursing student in 1933.

Doctors used to travel to houses and accident scenes to treat patients that could not come to the doctor’s office.

Settlers brought family cures and remedies with them. Many women became both doctor and nurse for their family. They relied on herbs and other plants to make poultices, teas, syrups when they were ill.

Learning about the local herbs and plants was extremely important to improve poor health If the settlers were lucky and had good relations with local First Nations people, they would have good teachers in this area.

Warm goose grease alone or mixed with lard was commonly used for chest colds or sore throats.

There were no hospitals so babies were born at home, surrounded by female relatives and neighbours. Sometimes doctors were there but often it was midwives who helped with the births. Midwives were women who helped other women to deliver their babies.


The pharmacy (also known as a drugstore) filled the doctor’s prescriptions. Pharmacies also carried health and beauty products, medicines, tonics, ointments, and first-aid supplies. Some pharmacies sold veterinary supplies (for treating animals), cameras and film, and paper and writing materials.

Pharmacies had a wide variety of supplies for settlers to purchase.

The inside of a pharmacy is shown with shelves full of jugs and glass jars that have medicines in them.

Pharmacies had containers full of medicines, tonics, and ointments that were measured out on scales for people who were not feeling well.