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Excerpt from “Medicine in Manitoba”

by Ross Mitchell, M.D.

Manitoba Pageant, April 1958, Volume 3, Number 3

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

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The possibility of invasion from the South - "54° 40' or fight" led to a detachment of the 6th Regiment, under Lt.-Col. Crofton, being sent to the Red River in September, 1846. Their medical officer was Dr. Duncan, who built a small organ for St. Boniface Cathedral, the one with the "turrets twain," which burned in 1860. Before the troops left in 1848 a grand ball was held at the Lower Fort. Dr. Bunn, writing to Donald Ross at Norway House, gave a description of the affair. "The amusement commenced by Dr. Duncan's choir singing a stanza of 'God Save the Queen,' and then `Here's a Health to all Good Lassies,' and they further added to the enjoyment of the evening by occasionally interspersing some choice songs and glees which were sung in a style hitherto unheard by the echoes of Rupert's Land."

Prior to the coming of the 6th Regiment there was an epidemic of "Bloody flux" (cholera?) which, according to the historian, Alexander Ross, began among the Indians of White Horse Plain and soon spread to the whites. "From the 18th of June" (1846), says Ross, 'to the 2nd of August the deaths averaged seven a day, or 321 in all; being one out of every sixteen of our population. Of these, one sixth were Indians, two-thirds half-breeds and the remainder whites - many houses were closed altogether, not one in the family, old or young being left in them."

* Medicine in Manitoba - The Story of its Beginnings: by Ross Mitchell, M.D., Stovel Advocate Press, Ltd., Winnipeg, 1954.

Page revised: 30 June 2009

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