As a Canadian prairie-born descendant of an early CPR settler, I read with interest your article The Railway Migrants in your January issue. My great grandfather, William James Moore, first travelled west in 1898 from Ontario to settle in an area of what was then called the North West Territories (present day Saskatchewan) near the township of Carlyle.
William first built a sod home to live in and over time hauled logs from the Moose Mountain area, 24km away, to build a log home with a sod roof. All the while, he was working the land. In 1899, he travelled to Ontario to bring his wife and four young children to the homestead. The family flourished and three more babies were born.
I have long admired the fortitude and optimism of early prairie settlers like William and his family who endured difficult winters with temperatures of - 40°C and summers that could be as hot as + 40°C. With very few resources and living long distances from neighbours and the nearest town, they not only I was delighted to read the article Under thee Knife in April’s magazine, especially as it profiled Joseph Lister. I had looked into his life some time ago when I discovered that my great grandfather’s brother James Reid had been a student at Glasgow University training to be a surgeon while Lister was a professor there.
Glasgow University was very helpful in answering my enquiry concerning James’s student days there. I have a copy of the University Calendar 1863- 64, which details the courses James would have had to have taken to qualify as a surgeon, which he did in 1868. These included medical courses such as the Practice of Medicine, Anatomy, and, of course, Surgery under the professorship of Joseph Lister MB. The calendar states ‘ The professor delivers a course of lectures on the Principles and Operations of surgery’. This was just at the endured and survived but prospered and made the Canadian prairies an extremely successful farming area.
So thank you for highlighting not only a compelling human story but also an important historical story from Canada!
I am attaching a photo of my grandfather from about 1918 with the log home that William built in the background. William time that Lister was beginning his antisepsis work so surely he was discussing it with his students. I wonder what James and his fellow students made of these new ideas, especially as when James qualified he joined the Bengal Army and went off to India where I suspect conditions were worse than in Scotland. I wonder if as a junior officer he had any influence on the way that patients were treated out there.
James spent the whole of his career in later built a two-storey home for his family and the log structure was used to house livestock. Marilyn Gardner, Melbourne, Australia Editor replies: It’s great to hear from readers who feel connected to some of our articles. How they coped with such extremes of weather, is beyond me. India,I becoming a Surgeon Major in Port BlairB on the Andaman and Nicobar I slands. I have a lot of general information abouta James but I wish there was more abouta his personal life as a surgeon in In ndia and the medical changes that he mustm have seen through his life.
So thank you for the article which gave mem a better understanding of how things were in Britain.
I always look forward to receiving my magazine as it always has something new to tell me but this one came with an extra special surprise! Diana Holdsworth, by email Editor replies: I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Diana. It had a lot of resonance for me to as my great grandfather was also a surgeon, although he trained in Birmingham, so not under Lister.
Marilyn Gardner’s grandfather
William James Moore, c1918
OurO Vi Victoriant i surgery f featuret iAin April’sil’ i issue