Granddaughter of Dr. TR Ross brings his stories to life
When former resident Helen Webster opened a box of notes and correspondence of her father’s, former Drumheller Doctor TR Ross, she never knew it would be a treasure chest. Webster, sister of local lawyer Bob Ross, will be coming through the valley on Tuesday, April 5, for an appearance and reading of her book “Medical Man,” stories of her father, a real prairie doctor. “I enjoyed the process, the research, and almost more than anything, enjoyed meeting all of the people, grandchildren of people who my grandfather looked after, and they all had stories to share,” Webster tells The Mail.
TR Ross practiced in Drumheller from 1919 to 1950. While Webster left the valley when she was 12, she has fond memories of her grandfather.
“I don’t know if it is mystique of mythology. Some of the stories I heard about him have reached almost a mythical status, and then I would get down to what really happened,” she said. “I knew my grandfather. He loved to get the family together and tell stories about his early life. I spent a lot of time with him and my grandmother up until we left Alberta.”
She loved those stories and they were part of the inspiration to write the book. The other part was her box of treasures.
“I was fortunate enough to have received from my mother a cardboard box that contained fragments of journals, case studies and notes that he has made. I looked through them and I thought this is really a treasure. When you combine those with so many of the oral histories that I heard, I thought if I don’t do something with this, it would be lost.”
She was also able to track down a family member who also had correspondence from Webster’s grandmother.
“Through these letters, journals and case studies, I thought I could write a book,” she said.
Medical Man reflects a life very different from a modern doctor. TR Ross was a physician and surgeon. He worked in Bow Island, Lethbridge and Coleman before coming to Drumheller. Webster explains it was no coincidence that he came to the valley.
“The reason he came to
Drumheller is because that was when the original Drumheller Municipal hospital was built,” said Webster. “He had become extremely proficient as a “bone doctor” dealing with mining injuries. When the hospital was to be situated in Drumheller, the centre of a mining area, for him it was the obvious choice to move on to a new hospital where his skills and reputation as a doctor to the miners would be valued.”
Webster recounts that often when she does readings, when she talks to people they lament not writing down stories from their parents or grandparents when they had a chance.
“These are very important stories to tell,” she said. “I was just really lucky to have that cardboard box, that treasure box that got me started.”
Helen Webster… pens new book
Brenda Webster, granddaughter of Dr. TR Ross has written a book on his life and will be presenting it to the community at the Drumheller Public Library on April 5.