The Story of George Taylor Fulford I and his pink pills for pale people

Patent medicine entrepreneur George Taylor Fulford I began his career in Brockville, Ontario as a railway and steamship ticket agent and wholesaler. He was apprenticed at the time in a drug store owned by his brother William, which he took over when William moved to Chicago. So successful was the sale of different patent medicines in his store that Fulford decided to start his own patent medicine company under the name Fulford and Co.

Fulford and Co’s most famous remedy– and the one which solidified the wealth and status of George Taylor Fulford– was Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People, the patent for which Fulford bought from Brockville doctor William Frederick Jackson in 1890. He advertised the pills very widely and cleverly, using patient testimonials in advertisements that look like little newspaper articles. Unlike many patent medicines of the time, the Pink Pills were actually beneficial for some of the ailments they claimed to cure– the principal ingredient was iron, which made them effective in treating anemia.

Museum of Health Care 1999.3.33

Fulford had many famous friends, including then Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, and was known as a generous and civic-minded man. He gave to numerous charities and served on Brockville’s town council, as well as the Canadian Senate. Tragically, he was the first recorded Canadian to die from a motor car accident, passing away on October 13th, 1905. His son, George Fulford II, bequeathed Fulford Place, their family home, to the Ontario Heritage Trust in 1987. You can still visit it today!

Museum of Health Care 1978.14.25
Museum of Health Care 1978.14.25
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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