The Story of Dr. Ralph Crawford and his Dental Collection

Did you know that the Museum of Health Care has an extensive collection of dental objects? We have over 680 catalogued on our database, and more where that came from! Much of what we have today we owe to Dr. Patrick “Ralph” Crawford, who donated well over 1500 dentistry-related objects! ⁠Dr. Crawford was an incredible source of knowledge and friend to the Museum of Health Care, and was named Museum Curator Emeritus for his extensive contributions to our dental collections and exhibits. His series of articles “The Canadian Dental Association 1902-2002 – A Century of Service” continues to be an important resource for cataloguing and researching dental artefacts … More The Story of Dr. Ralph Crawford and his Dental Collection

The Story of Robert Liston and his Surgical Skill

Dr. Robert Liston was a resolute gentleman, known for his incredible ability to perform surgeries at an alarmingly fast pace in order to reduce the pain and risk of shock and blood loss for the patient. Before anaesthetics were introduced into surgical practice, Liston’s speed often meant the difference between life and death for the person on the operating table. ⁠

Liston was known as a skilled surgeon with an argumentative personality, due in part to his strong convictions and deep care for his patients. He had a strong sense of decency and was not afraid to call out his fellow surgeons and teachers – and even engage in physical confrontations – if he suspected they had behaved indecently. ⁠ … More The Story of Robert Liston and his Surgical Skill

The History of Temporary Military Hospitals in Kingston

Kingston was especially hard-hit by these events compared to other towns. Even during a pandemic just over a hundred years ago, Kingston served the same role of regional health care centre as it did during the COVID pandemic. As the largest city between Ottawa and Toronto, Kingston’s healthcare facilities have always serviced a particularly large surrounding area. On top of this, Andrew Belyea, a previous Margaret Angus Research Fellow for the Museum, notes that Kingston was a military hub around the time of the First World War, with a very large number of soldiers stationed in or otherwise filtered through town (find his article here). This created a larger-than-expected need for hospital care when the war ended and soldiers began returning to Canada – a need that would be difficult to meet. … More The History of Temporary Military Hospitals in Kingston

The Story of John Williams the Oculis and his career in quackery

This was the advertisement in Kingston’s Chronicle and Gazette, which ran on October 20th, 1841, heralding the arrival of Mr. Williams. His visit to Kingston came near the end of his illustrious career in quackery, preceded by nearly forty years of travelling in Europe and the United States, treating patients and selling his so-called miracle cure for blindness. … More The Story of John Williams the Oculis and his career in quackery

Smallpox – A Short History of Vaccination (Part 2)

Janet Parker was the last person in the world to die from smallpox in 1978. She was working as a scientific photographer above one of the labs at Birmingham Medical School. The lab was working with smallpox and Parker contracted the disease on August 11th. She would die a month later.This event shook the world not only because the last smallpox case in the UK was 5 years prior, but because smallpox was on its way to being confined to the history books. … More Smallpox – A Short History of Vaccination (Part 2)

Parenting Manuals and the 1920s-50s Canadian Family

While perusing the many books that make up the Museum’s little-known reference library for a work assignment, I discovered a small collection of books concerning parenting and child rearing. These books are early incantations of the parenting books that are so incredibly common today. The earliest is from 1926 and the most recent is from 1959. At face value, these books aren’t of much interest to anyone other than prospective parents, of which I am certainly not one! However, knowing that Canadian society changed dramatically from 1926 to 1959, I wondered if any of the changes in healthcare and the social fabric of the country would be reflected in these books. With the help of a little background research, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much these little books could tell us about the history of Canada. … More Parenting Manuals and the 1920s-50s Canadian Family

The History of Vaccinations: The Build Up to the Spanish Flu

An understanding of disease resistance has existed in written records as far back as 429 BCE when the Greek historian Thucydides acknowledged that those who survived a smallpox epidemic in Athens were subsequently protected from the disease. Since a basic understanding of the biological underpinnings of infection was not understood for a long time, it was not until 900 AD when the Chinese developed a rudimentary smallpox inoculation. Chinese physicians noted how uninfected people who were exposed to a smallpox scab were less likely to acquire the disease or, if they did, that it was milder. The most common method of inoculation was to inhale crushed smallpox scabs through the nostrils. … More The History of Vaccinations: The Build Up to the Spanish Flu