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The history of pharmacy in Manitoba

by Professor Dougald Mcdougall

MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1954-55 season

MHS Transactions were originally published by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make online versions available as a free, public service. As an historical document, Transactions may contain language that is no longer in common use and which may offend some readers. They should not be construed to represent the views of today’s Manitoba Historical Society.

This online version was prepared using Optical Character Recognition software so that spelling and punctuation errors may have occurred inadvertently. If you find any such errors, please inform us, indicating the document name and error.

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While the year 1878 marks the incorporation of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association and therefore the beginning of the official history of pharmacy in the province, the story of medicinal agents employed by early inhabitants would go back much further. The story would have its beginning in the folk-lore, magic and mysticism of the wandering Indian tribes, who roamed these plains before the coming of the white man.

Just how primitive and untutored peoples learned to recognize the healing virtues of plant and animal products, is largely a matter of conjecture. The fact is that they did.

An outstanding example is found in the modern use of the plant drug known as Rauwolfia serpintina. The drug is named in honor of the 16th century German botanist, physician and explorer, Dr. Leonhard Rauwolf of Augsburg. Its origin in Indian medicine is lost in antiquity. It was employed in an extensive list of ailments including epilepsy, insomnia, insanity, dysentery, headaches, blindness, fevers and as an antidote for insect and snake bites.

Chemists today have isolated some fifteen different constituents from Rauwolfia. It has become the subject of one of the most remarkable stories of modern medicine. It is the most recent addition to the drugs employed to bring about a reduction in blood pressure. In October 1954, Dr. Rapaport, Director of Medical Hygiene for the state of California in association with the Superintendent and Medical Director, Modesto State Hospital, reported dramatic results in the treatment of the mentally ill and the mentally retarded using one of the constituents of Rauwolfia.

Interest in the healing value of plants is not confined to early peoples. Over the years, I have quite a collection of inquiries from individuals in the province seeking information regarding plants that they have employed with apparent success. A lady writing from Peters field described the control of epileptic seizures and a host of minor maladies by utilizing one of the local plants made into a brew or tea.

In Manitoba and in other parts of Canada, the early story of healing agents centred around the Medicine Man. His formidable and primitive treatment, although not always successful, combined two essential elements, the spiritual and the physical. Man's mind and soul may stand in need of treatment, as well as his body. The Medicine Man lived close to the spirit world. Through fasting and penance he sought communion with the Great Spirit. He performed strange and unexplained feats.

H. M. Robertson, in The Great Fur Land, records a tragic incident which occurred during a buffalo hunt. The daughter of a French-Indian family taking part in the hunt was accidentally shot through the chest. Despite the most effective first-aid measures that could be rendered under those primitive conditions, she was given up for lost. The Medicine Man from a neighboring Indian tribe came to their assistance. He promised the father that if the girl was entrusted to his care he would cure her. Nothing could be lost and the offer was accepted. The girl recovered and returned with her parents at the termination of the hunt. When seen years later she was in perfect health.

The same author describes the 'medicine-bags' of the Medicine Man. They were formed from the skins of wild animals and contained a curious collection of items including dried herbs, powders, skins of reptiles, claws of animals, talons of birds, colored feathers and beaks, human finger and toe-nails. The wooden images, a constant item, were considered essential in insuring the efficacy of the treatment. According to the Reverend Peter Jones in his History of the Ojibway Indians, the bag was considered to possess supernatural powers to injure anyone who might dare to examine its sacred contents. The Medicine Man did little to alter or destroy that belief.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the awe and reverence accorded the Medicine Man was the belief that he possessed knowledge of sinister and potent substances that he could employ to wreck vengeance on his enemies. Dr. John Maclean in Canadian Savage Folk tells of conversations with Cree half-breeds, who told him strange tales of evil wrought upon their bodies such as hair, warts and black skin blotches, which were made to appear and disappear periodically.

Not all ailments were referred to the Medicine Man. All members of the tribe had some knowledge of domestic remedies, which were passed on from one generation to another. Dire necessity resulted in the development of resourcefulness in meeting local emergencies.

Doubtless the early white settlers learned much from the natives. John McLean in Notes on Twenty-Five Years Service, 1830-1845, in Hudson's Bay Territory, writes: "The knowledge the natives possess of the medicinal virtues of roots and herbs is generally equal to all their ailments and we are in fact more frequently indebted to them, than they to us, for medical advice."

It would be a matter of considerable difficulty to establish with any degree of accuracy the provisions for medicines made by the early traders and adventurers who made their way into this great fur land. No doubt, they were hardy souls, well trained and conditioned to meet the rigours of such a life. Despite that fact, the possibility of disease was ever present as a sinister foe, ready to strike without warning. They would, no doubt, rely not only upon the knowledge gleaned through their own experience, but upon the knowledge and assistance of the Indians. That reliance was apparently justified. Dr. J. J. Heagerty in The Romance of Medicine in Canada states that when the French reached Canada they found that the Indians were possessed of a knowledge of medicine and surgery that was in some respects the equal of their own.

The actual medicaments employed differed with the tribe and the regions in which they dwelt. Dr. Heber W. Youngken has compiled a list of the drugs employed by the North American Indians. (American Journal of Pharmacy, July, 1924) Some eighty-five agents are described. Youngken states that prior to the arrival of the early colonists, the North American Indians were acquainted with cough and cold remedies, emetics, cathartics, diaphoretics, vermifuges, astringents, alteratives, stimulants, narcotics and antiseptics.

In Bulletin No. 23, Dominion Department of Agriculture, 1915, J. Adams, Assistant Botanist, has described the medicinal plants of Canada. These would constitute the materia medica of the Indians.

The Reverend Peter Jones in the History of the Ojibway Indians describes the medicines used by these early peoples. He also refers to the employment of plant products as charms. There is considerable agreement in the drugs described in the following three references.

The Hunter's Medicine. It was composed of different roots and was held in great esteem by all hunters.

The Warrior's Medicine. This was always taken before going to war, in the belief that possession of the medicine rendered the owner invulnerable.

The Love Powder. This was a peculiar sort of charm composed of roots and red ochre. It was designed to assist in winning favor with the object of his affection.

In view of recent press reports, mention should be made of the use of peyote by the Indians. The drug is obtained from a small carrot shaped Mexican cactus. The top of the cactus is cut into transverse sections and these constitute what is known as peyote, peyote buttons or mescal buttons. When taken internally the drug produces rather remarkable mental and physical effects.

Peyotism is a religion with a national inter-tribal organization incorporated under the name of The Native American Church of the United States. It is described as Christianity adapted to traditional Indian beliefs and practices. In its modern form it developed about 1870.

The Reverend Gontran Laviolette, in The Sioux Indians in Canada, refers to the introduction of Peyotism into two Manitoba reservations. The Winnipeg Free Press, December 15th, 1954, carried the story of the incorporation of The Native American Church of Canada by the Cree Indians near North Battleford. One of the objects is stated to be the fostering and promotion of the use of peyote as a sacrament. The uses of peyote has been defended on the basis of its sacramental use. Concern has been expressed in some quarters on the possible abuse of the drug, because of the peculiar psychic effects produced.

Despite the empiricism and superstition surrounding Indian medicine, it comprises one stage or epoch in the long story of the development of modern therapeutics. The recognition accorded these primitive remedies is illustrated by the fact that as late as 1925, close to sixty Indian drugs were included in the United States Pharmacopeia or the National Formulary.

With this reference to early Indian medicine, we might look briefly at the early days of the Red River Settlement. In the pioneer period, it was an isolated spot in a vast and hostile wilderness. The difficulties and dangers attendant upon travel and the privations endured through lack of adequate supplies are vividly described by Alexander Ross in The Red River Settlement. In this era of our history the story of drugs is associated with the Selkirk Settlers and with the post established by the Hudson's Bay Company - Fort Garry. Records are sketchy and much must be left to the imagination.

The need for medication was an early experience of the first group of Selkirk Settlers, who sailed from Stornoway on July 26th, 1811. Provision was made for their spiritual needs in the person of Father Burke and for their medical needs in the person of Mr. Edwards, the surgeon who accompanied the expedition. They spent the winter at York Factory. Despite the precautions taken by Miles McDonell and Dr. Edwards, scurvy broke out. Dr. Edwards undoubtedly had access to the limited supply of drugs contained in the medicine chest which was provided by the company for use in the Company trading posts. McDonell urgently requested the Company for adequate medicines. When all efforts failed, they resorted to Jacques Cartier's remedy, a drink prepared from the leaves of the white spruce. That was long before the discovery of the vitamins. It is now known that the leaves are a valuable source of the anti-scorbutic vitamin, vitamin C.

According to Dr. George Bryce in his Life of Lord Selkirk, the Orkneymen of the group were very unwilling to partake of the potion. One by the name of Finlay was particularly obstinate. He was sentenced to confinement and since no prison facilities were available, a log hut was built for his accommodation. Some of his friends set fire to the building and rescued the prisoner.

In the spring of 1812, a depleted party left their pitiful winter quarters and set out on the long and perilous journey to the Red River. They arrived at their destination some four hundred days from the date of embarkation. Across the river from their camp site was Fort Gibraltar, The North-West Company's trading post for the vicinity. J. P. Pritchett, in The Red River Valley, 1811-1849, tells of the purchase of supplies by McDonell from the North-Westers at Fort Gibraltar. Food was the principal item required at that time. No doubt, some provision had been made at the Fort for medicines required by those in the service of the Company and would be available in cases of emergency. Brandon House, established by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1794, could also have been a centre for medical supplies. Traders travelling inland from that area would probably have with them the allotted kit supplied for emergencies. Traders from Brandon House were camped on the site selected by Selkirk's men some days prior to their arrival.

The establishment of Fort Garry as the trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1822 would make medical supplies more readily available. It was the practice of the Company to provide a medicine chest for use in the various forts established by the Company. We might imagine that these forts provided a haven of refuge in times of emergency, illness and disease.

These medicine chests were apparently prepared and stocked in London by apothecaries appointed by the Company. In the Minutes of the Hudson's Bay Company, Second Series, 1682-1684, two interesting entries appear.

October 13th, 1682. "Ordered that Jno. Kirs bill amo. unto £6.06 for medicines he delivered Governr. Nixon for the use of the factories be paid and sattisfyed."

December 12th, 1683. "Ordered that in the future Mr. Tho. Robinson dwelling at the Signe of the Unicorne in the Strand nere the New Exchange shall be the Compa. Apothecary to furnish them wth. medesines for the Bay."

It has not been possible to locate an inventory of the drugs carried at Fort Garry. However, an inventory of the medical supplies on hand at Fort Albany, dated July 23rd, 1730, has been made available through the kindness of officials at Hudson's Bay House, Winnipeg. The inventory comprises seventy-seven different items including the following:

Emp.

Epispastics
Diach. Simp.

Bals.

Copaibae

Ungt.

Althaeae

Rad.

Gentian
Ipecacuanhae

Folio.

Menthae

Herbs.

Pectoral

Spt.

Sal Amoniac
Sal volatile

Gummi.

Ammoniac
Aloe

This list might be taken as reasonably representative of the stock carried in other Company posts.

The practice of supplying medicine chests to outlying posts where medical aid is not directly available is still observed. These are quite modern on contents. They contain such well known items as boric acid, milk of magnesia, penicillin, tincture of iodine. A comparison of this inventory of 1955 with that of 1730 provides a picture of the progress in the field of therapeutics during those years.

These medicine chests would, no doubt, be a source of supply of drugs for the Selkirk Settlers. Their use would in all probability be supervised by the surgeons who accompanied each party and in some cases remained in the colony for varying lengths of time. Doctors reported as having served in the Red River Colony include Edwards, White, Wilkinson and Holdsworth. When more settled conditions were established following the union of the two rival fur companies in 1821, medical services were greatly improved. Dr. J. J. Heagerty in Four Centuries of Medical History in Canada records the contributions of such doctors as Walter Robert Bunn, J. Curtis Bird, Dr. later Sir John Christian Schultz and O'Donnell.

In those years, although medical services were improved, the supply of drugs must have been inadequate. This could be inferred from a memorandum for Captain R. Pelly, 1823, recorded in The Selkirk Papers, XXV, 7791. (Canadian North-West, Vols. I & 2, page 252.) The memorandum was to the effect that Mr. Cuddie would remain another year as the surgeon at Red River if he accepts the terms offered him, viz.-150 pounds p. an. salary and an allowance of 150 for his board and lodging-to find his own medicines and to have the benefit of his practice-it being understood that he is to attend the poor who cannot pay him.

Further evidence of the inadequacy of supplies is found in a few isolated references that have been located. At a meeting of the Council of Assiniboia held at Fort Garry, July 4th, 1839, a resolution was passed that strychnine to the amount of five pounds be imported from England for the destruction of wolves.

The minutes of a meeting of the Governor and Council of Assiniboia, June 19th, 1845, (Canadian North-West, Vols. 1 & 2, page 320), records the appointment of a Committee of Economy. By resolution this committee was given power to import, duty free, such seeds and drugs and implements as may appear likely to be beneficial, and shall sell the same at cost and charges under proper guarantees against their being resold. A report of this committee was presented at a meeting of the Council , June 28th, 1847 (Canadian North-West, Vols. 1 & 2, page 336). The report recorded the importation from England of a number of items. No mention was made of the importation of drugs.

At a meeting of the Governor and Council of Assiniboia, December 29th, 1868, a petition was read from Dr. Convenant (Canadian NorthWest, Vols 1 & 2, page 603), which stated in part:

"And further your petitioner would humbly state that he is a poor man and cannot afford to give his medicines for nothing and prayeth that your Honble, Body would grant a sum of money in such cases for the indigent, even only for the medicines alone ...."

The Council entertained his petition and Dr. Convenant was granted the sum of £20 for the purpose of securing a further supply of medicines.

An editorial in the Nor'Wester, August 18th, 1862, deplored the inadequacy of medical services in the Red River Settlement. It was pointed out that for a time Dr. Bunn was the only physician for the district. Dr. Bird and Dr. Schultz arrived later. The services rendered by the Reverend G. O. Corbett were recognized. Corbett had some experience in hospital work and operated as an amateur practitioner. It was pointed out that he gave freely of his talents and supplied necessary drugs without cost to the people. A strong plea was made that persons who received medicines should pay for them.

A search through the minutes of the Council of Assiniboia and the Council, Northern Department of Rupert's Land, has failed to disclose any important references relating to the purchase or provision for drug supplies. (The incompleteness of this information should provide a stimulus for continuing research in this field.)

The last part of our story deals with a period which is within the memory of our older citizens. The records, although sketchy in some instances, are more complete and definite.

There is on record in the historical files of the School of Pharmacy a letter written by the late Mr. James Colcleugh, Selkirk's first pharmacist, which will serve to introduce the last part of this paper. He writes: "James Stewart was the first druggist and along with Caldwell and Dr. Bird were the only ones in business when I came to the country in 1875 ..."

Although this letter contains no reference to Dr. John C. Schultz, he probably has the distinction of being the first dealer in drugs in this district. He was a native of Amherstberg, Ontario, having studied medicine at Kingston and later at Victoria College. Schultz graduated in 1861 at the age of twenty-one. Following graduation he had planned to go to Mexico. However, a visit to the Red River Settlement the previous year laid the lure of the West upon him and in the year of his graduation he arrived again in the Red River Settlement and entered upon the practice of medicine and was soon prominently established in his profession. Sometime later, he entered the fur trade and his operations proved quite successful. He sold drugs and patents as well as other merchandise. The building occupied by Dr. Schultz was located at what is now Main and Water streets; it was ordered demolished in 1913, following damage by fire. One of the oldest of Winnipeg's historic landmarks, it was the residence of Dr. Schultz at the time of the Rebellion in 1871, when he was imprisoned by Lepine and Riel. Dr. Schultz had an adventurous and distinguished career. He had conferred upon him the imperial honor of Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George by Queen Victoria, May 24th, 1895. He was elected to represent the constituency of Lisgar and was elevated to the Senate in 1882. Appointed Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Manitoba July 1st, 1888, he served in office until a short time before his death in 1896.

The men named by Mr. Colcleugh operated prior to the incorporation of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association. Their story is an interesting chapter in the early days of Winnipeg. James Stewart, named by Mr. Colcleugh as the first pharmacist in Winnipeg, led an adventurous and exciting life. He was born in the Orkney Islands in 1826 and enlisted in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company at the age of twenty-four. His first post was at York Factory. It is recorded in Rae's Arctic Correspondence, 1844-1855, Hudson's Bay Record Society, that James Stewart and James Anderson were appointed by the Hudson's Bay Company to lead the Arctic Expedition, which travelled down Great Fish River to make further search for Sir John Franklin's party. His next post was at Norway House. From there he was transferred to Fort Garry. He left the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company to teach school in St. James.

Joseph James Hargrave, in Red River, records the fact that James Stewart, the parochial school master, was known to be one of the ringleaders who led the attack on the prison to free the Reverend Griffith Owen Corbett, who had been committed for malpractice. Stewart was apprehended and lodged in the same prison from which he had liberated Corbett, but was later released by his friends. Stewart was in the employ of Dr. Schultz as bookkeeper when the Riel Rebellion broke out. He was taken prisoner along with others, including Ashdown, Lynch, Archibald Wright, McArthur, Eccles, Charle Mair the poet, Thomas Scott and their leader Dr. Schultz. He was one of those who witnessed the shooting of Scott. A private communication is to the effect that Mrs. Stewart was the last person to provide a meal for Scott before that tragic event. Following the Riel Rebellion, Stewart purchased the drug stock of Dr. Schultz and opened a business in a building which he erected on the west side of Main Street between Graham and St. Mary's Avenues, where the Brooks Memorial Building now stands.

Through a private communication, it was while the Stewarts lived at that location that they had a most unusual experience with a squaw of the Sioux Indians who came to Fort Garry following the Minnesota Outbreak in 1862. This squaw was a frequent visitor to the Stewart store. She always brought with her, a white child. The Stewarts became interested in the child and on questioning the squaw found that he was a survivor of the Minnesota Outbreak and had been brought here by the Indian family. The Stewarts purchased the child from the squaw in exchange for some calico and an assorted package of provisions. The child grew up with the Stewart family and was educated by them. According to the story, they were able to trace relatives of the boy in Minnesota. He returned to them for a short period but the strong attachment to the Stewarts brought him back to live with them. The later part of his story is not definite. It is believed that he studied medicine and went to San Francisco where he died. There is a further point of interest in connection with the boy's name. The spelling has not been established. His name was Charles Merick or Myrick. If it was the later spelling, this is probably the family mentioned by the Reverend Gontran Laviolette in The Sioux Indians in Canada. He quotes the story of Andrew J. Myrick, a trader, who along with others refused credit to the Indians at a time when they stood desperately in need of supplies. Myrick was the first to be shot on the day of the outbreak.

Stewart was appointed the first Registrar of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association following the incorporation of the Association in 1878. He was appointed by the Dominion Government to the post of Meteorological Observer in Manitoba. Interested in geology and other sciences, he made frequent contributions to the early editions of the Winnipeg Free Press. Stewart retired in 1885 and with his son, Robert, founded the Selkirk Record. At the time of his death in 1911, he was living with his son Alexander in Prince Albert.

Dr. Curtis J. Bird was prominently associated with the political life of Winnipeg and Manitoba in the early days. He was elected to the first legislature, in 1873, and was Speaker of the House, 1873-74. Dr. Bird operated the Apothecaries Hall, located at Main Street and Bannatyne Avenue in the early 1870s. The first soda-water fountain in the West was installed in Bird's store, in 1873.

Mr. John F. Caldwell was born in Lanark, Ontario. He received his early education there and later attended McGill University. He came to Winnipeg in 1873, where he erected a building on the North West corner of Main Street and McDermot Avenue to house his wholesale business and retail store. Manufacturing chemists in Liverpool became the suppliers for his business, but wholesale activities were not extensive. Government and Hudson's Bay Posts throughout the country were the chief customers. In 1891, Caldwell disposed of his drug business to Mr. John F. Howard and then directed his interests and activities to the mining industry. For some years he operated the Sultana Gold Mines at the Lake of the Woods. He died in Winnipeg in 1949, at the age of ninety-eight years.

Following the formation of the Province of Manitoba in 1870, the licensing of pharmacists became the prerogative of the Lieutenant Governor. There is no record of any license granted under that authority.

The Manitoba Medical Act was passed in 1871. The Act gave the Provincial Medical Board of Manitoba the power to regulate the study of medicine, surgery, mid-wifery and pharmacy. There is no record of any license to practice pharmacy granted under the Medical Act of 1871.

In the early 1870s, James Colcleugh and William Whitehead were appointed by the pharmacists of that time to arrange for the incorporation of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association. Writing of his experiences in that connection, Colcleugh says:

"The House of that day was not very numerous and our acquaintance with the members of so intimate a nature that we were chosen for the job. We had not too much difficulty. Committees of that day did not consume much time on business when they met. They had to have their pipes filled, fresh stories had to be told and jokes cracked before they got down to work."

The Lieutenant-Governor gave his assent to the new Act on February 2nd, 1878. The Winnipeg Free Press of March the 4th, 1878, records the first meeting of the Council when the following officers were elected:

President - John F. Caldwell
Vice-President - William Whitehead
Secretary-Treasurer - James Stewart

The names associated with the development of pharmacy in Winnipeg following the incorporation of the Association in 1878 will be known to many of the members of this Society. Their story is recorded in my History of Pharmacy in Manitoba, published by the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association in 1954. A copy of the history has been presented to the Manitoba Historical Society as a permanent record of the pioneers associated with pharmacy in the province.

The history of pharmacy in rural Manitoba is an interesting chapter in its development. In many instances, the physician combined his profession with that of pharmacy and opened the first pharmacy in the town where he was located. The list is quite extensive and includes such men of the medical profession as Dr. Fleming of Brandon, Dr. Cleghorn of Belmont, Dr. Morrison of Birtle, Dr. R. W. McCharles of Cypress River, Dr. Wright of Oak Lake, Dr. Cowan of Portage la Prairie and Dr. Gibbs of Selkirk.

Based on replies to a questionnaire which was circulated to all pharmacists in the province, the first rural pharmacy was opened by James Colcleugh in Selkirk in 1876. The store is operated at present by Mr. George Gilhuly. Colcleugh comes from a long line of pharmacists. He was the first mayor of Selkirk. His son, Murray Colcleugh, operated the pharmacy at the corner of Sherbrook Street and Notre Dame Avenue for a period of forty years, from 1912 until 1952. The building was built by his father in 1891, being one of a number of stores operated by him.

Manitou has an interesting pharmaceutical history. The first pharmacy was opened there by Gordon W. McLaren, of Morden. McLaren opened the first pharmacy in Nelsonville, in 1879. When Nelsonville, Mountain City and Stephen were moved to the present site of Morden, McLaren established himself in the new town and engaged Mr. William Vrooman as manager of the Manitou store. Vrooman had rather an interesting career. He left the drug business around 1887 and entered the ministry. He came back to the drug field again in 1903, when he purchased the drug business of Mr. Joseph Taylor, one of the first pharmacists in Portage la Prairie. He operated a store for a time in Winnipeg at the corner of Broadway Avenue and Sherbrook Street. He ended his career in the ministry and died in Upper Montclair, N.J., in 1949.

Mr. R. Wesley McClung settled in Manitou in 1894. The following year he married Nellie Mooney. Their first home was the four rooms above the store. Mrs. Nellie McClung became a national figure as a successful novelist and it was in Manitou that her first book, Sowing Seeds in Danny, was written. She was a vigorous temperance advocate and a persuasive orator, a pioneer in the campaign for women's suffrage.

Mention has been made of the fact that the physician in a number of instances opened the first pharmacy in many rural towns. Dr. F. Woodhull opened the first store in Hartney. He gave up his practice to devote his time to pharmacy. As his interests in the community developed, he found less time for pharmacy. He founded the Hartney Star. He published a poultry journal and since he was the principal contributor and wished to write from personal knowledge, he went into the poultry business. He organized and conducted the town band and his own orchestra. Dr. Woodhull spoke the Sioux language and enjoyed the confidence and patronage of the Sioux Indians. It is recalled that they judged the efficacy of the medicine received by the vileness of the odor and taste; the more vile it was the more effective it was judged to be.

The Egyptian Drug Company of Carberry was a flourishing enterprise around 1890. It was operated by A. E. Munson. A variety of products for both veterinary and human use prepared by the firm found an extensive market in the rapidly developing province.

A. R. Leonard, who came to Winnipeg from Ontario in 1884, commenced his pharmaceutical career in Stonewall. Later he retired from pharmacy and entered the automobile field. He was associated with C. McLaughlin in the firm which still bears his name, the Leonard McLaughlin Motors Limited, in Winnipeg.

Joseph Taylor, one of the first pharmacists in Portage la Prairie, disposed of his business and established the Portage Soda Water Works, perhaps the first venture of its kind in the West.

The Speer-Stevenson Drug Company, with branches throughout Manitoba and Winnipeg, was an ambitious organization. W. H. Speer of Shoal Lake was the first purchasing agent for the chain.

W. P. Duncalfe, who was established in Morden sometime prior to 1894, is remembered for his one time popular product, Duncalfe's Manitoba Liver Remedy.

The supplying of medication to patients in sparsely settled districts in the early days frequently presented a problem. Dr. H. N. Wright, following service in the Rebellion of 1885, established a medical practice and pharmacy in Oak Lake. At one time, he attended a patient seriously ill with pneumonia, living some seven miles from the town, engaging a Mr. Beaty to take the necessary medication to him. It was the practice in those pioneer days for the settlers to leave a light burning in the window of the farm house to guide the traveller but someone had neglected to follow the practice that night. Mr. Beaty lost the trail and did not arrive at the patient's home until 5 o'clock the next morning.

The wholesale drug industry in the province has been an important factor in the development and distribution of medication. The earliest permanent firm in this field was the Martin, Bole and Wynne Drug Company. E. D. Martin came to Winnipeg, in 1890, and was a prominent figure in the civic and political life of the city for almost fifty years. D. W. Bole, Regina's first pharmacist, came to Winnipeg in 1895. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1904. This early firm has witnessed many changes in organization and personnel. It operates to-day as National Drugs Limited.

The story of Pharmacy in Manitoba would not be complete without a brief reference to pharmaceutical education. Although the Association was incorporated in 1878, it was not until ten years later that steps were taken to provide instruction in pharmacy, as required by the Act. In 1888, J. E. Wright was engaged as lecturer. Following his death in a boating accident on the Red River in July of that year, Professor Kenrick of St. John's College was engaged to give a series of lectures. The late W. J. Healy in Winnipeg's Early Days records the fact that the first automobile was brought to Winnipeg by Professor Kenrick.

Later, arrangements were made with the Manitoba Medical College whereby pharmacy students were admitted to such lectures as pertained to pharmaceutical education. In 1894, the Association engaged their own lecturers and assumed full responsibility for instruction in pharmacy. Instruction was provided in rented quarters in the Medical College.

In 1899, the Association erected its own building, the Manitoba College of Pharmacy, at 422 Notre Dame Avenue. H. E. Bletcher, who was Manager of the Pulford Drug Company at Carman, was appointed the first Principal of the College. A one-year course in pharmacy was established.

The College was affiliated with the University of Manitoba in 1902. In 1914, the University Department of Pharmacy was established. Principal Bletcher was appointed the first University Professor of Pharmacy; he is reported to be the first person to hold such an appointment in the British Empire. In 1938, the two year course which was established when the Department of Pharmacy was created in 1914, was replaced by a completely revised course leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. In 1951, the status of the Department of Pharmacy was changed and the School of Pharmacy was established.

Pharmaceutical education in Manitoba is inseparably connected with the name of Professor H. E. Bletcher, who had a long and distinguished career. When he retired in 1939, he had completed forty-one years of faithful service. He died on November 12th, 1949, at the age of eighty years.

Over the years, the practice of pharmacy has altered. Crude drugs and indefinite mixtures have been replaced by purified products isolated from natural sources. These have been supplemented by a host of synthetic drugs marked by pronounced selective activity. These changes and advances have come about as a result of equally marked changes and advances in the allied fields of medicine, chemistry and therapeutics.

Our story, though ending, is incomplete. There are many events, developments and names that have been omitted. Even the published history is incomplete. However, the Historical Committee appointed by the Association continues to function. We trust that the years ahead will add much more information to this absorbing story.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba College of Pharmacy Building (422 Notre Dame Avenue, Winnipeg)

Page revised: 16 May 2011

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