The Story of Bennie Stalk and his life-saving operation

William Benjamin Stalker, or Bennie, was only ten years old when he was accidentally shot by his twelve year old brother in September 1901. His arm was severely damaged, and within two days it became gangrenous. Bennie was later sent to Kingston General Hospital from his home near Plevna, Ontario– an eleven hour trip.

Benny Stalker

Upon arriving at KGH, the details of his case were recorded by Dr. W. G. Anglin as a case study and published in the January 1902 edition of Kingston Medical Quarterly. Dr. Anglin noted that during his examination, Bennie “exhibited great courage and patience.”

Fenwick Operating Theatre (Kingston General Hospital) Use with permission from KGH Archives

The day after his arrival, Bennie was brought to the Fenwick Operating Theatre to have his infected arm  amputated. He was given chloroform as an anaesthetic and his arm was quickly cut away and cleaned, and portions of his clavicle removed with a Gigli saw. At the close of the operation, Bennie was given hypodermics of strychnine and digitalis to steady his high pulse.

Digitalis Museum of Health Care 996001160
Gili Saw Museum of Health Care 1976.6.37
Chloroform Museum of Health Care 1981.10.12

After two days of recovery, Bennie was cheerful, and by October 20th, he was completely healed. He received a gift of gold from a fellow patient (the principal of Queen’s University), and said that he wanted to use part of it to buy a calf for his brother. Always quick and bright with his answers, Bennie was then admitted to the Orphans’ Home as only his father was living, and he made good progress with his schooling. He was married in 1927 and had four children. Bennie passed away in November 1940 at the age of forty-nine.

To learn more about the harrowing experience of William Benjamin Stalker and the case study by Dr. Anglin, visit our blog at, and read the case study at

Shaelyn Ryan<br>(Collections Technician/Assistant 2020-2021)
Shaelyn Ryan
(Collections Technician/Assistant 2020-2021)

Shaelyn Ryan is an undergraduate student Queen’s University, currently completing her forth (and final) year in the Bachelor of Arts History Program. Either as a Summer Student or Work-Study Student through Queen’s University, Shaelyn has helped catalogue and research many of the museum’s collection of artefacts as a Collections Technician (since 2018).

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