Grand­daugh­ter of Dr. TR Ross brings his sto­ries to life

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

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.

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