Posted tagged ‘newspapers’

Health for a Shilling

November 21, 2012

Medications that are now used with great caution, if at all, were common place in the Victorian age. Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, described as an indispensable aid to quiet crying or teething babies, had morphine as a major ingredient. Opium, regarded as an all-purpose drug, was widely used to control coughing and diarrhea. One company sold heroin tablets to relieve asthma symptoms. Cocaine was used in drops for toothache, one company promoted cocaine throat lozenges as “indispensable for singers, teachers and orators”, and dentists and surgeons used it as an anesthetic.

While these were legitimate drugs in medical practices of the late 1800s, a whole range of patent medicines also flourished during that period. People bought them from traveling medicine shows, and they were advertised in newspapers and magazines. The golden age of patent medicines ended in the early 1900s, when new legislation prohibited the misbranding of foods and drugs, as well as false advertising. Also, as legitimate medicine evolved, new cures replaced the old. Opium and other addictive drugs fell by the wayside once scientists realized their pitfalls, and novocain replaced its predecessor, cocaine, as an anesthetic.

Advertisements from the British Colonist of October 7, 1862, the day RCH opened, included ones for Holloway’s Pills, Brown’s Bronchial Troches, Dr. Jayne’s Sanative Pills, and Dr. J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters, standard remedies that most New Westminster families would have had on their shelves.

Ads for Dr. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters were often targeted specifically to local conditions. During the Civil War, they were sold to soldiers as “a positive protective against the fatal maladies of the Southern swamps, and the poisonous tendency of the impure rivers and bayous.” In BC, the ad described the medicine as “a preventive of various dangerous diseases to which the gold seeker is liable”. The original formula was about 47% alcohol – 94 Proof! The amount of alcohol was so high that it was served in Alaskan saloons by the glass. Hostetter sweetened the alcohol with sugar to which he added a few aromatic oils (anise, coriander, etc.) and vegetable bitters (cinchona, gentian, etc.) to give it a medicinal flavour.

Ad for Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters

Dr. Jayne’s Sanative Pills, on the other hand, would speedily remove “bilious affections”, and were “invaluable to the miner as they may be taken without necessitating a discontinuance from work, even though the latter should be in the winter”.

Ad for Dr. Jayne’s Sanative Pills

Feeling a little hoarse? Brown’s Bronchial Troches were just the thing. The ad quoted a clergyman from Morristown Ohio, “Last spring I feared my lungs were becoming dangerously involved, and until I used your Troches could not preach a sermon of ordinary length without hoarseness, but now, with the assistance of the Troches, I have in the past five weeks preached some forty sermons.”

Ad for Brown’s Bronchial Troches

But the most popular patent medicine of that time was Holloway’s pills. Under the title, “Health for a Shilling”, their ad claimed that they would cure an astonishing number of diseases and conditions from coughs, colds and asthma, to dysentery, gout, tumours and “weakness from whatever cause”. Analysis of the pills showed that they contained aloe, myrrh and saffron, which while probably not harmful, would be unlikely to have the claimed effect.

Holloways Ointment and Pills


Odds ‘n’ Ends from Newspapers

April 11, 2012

There have been interesting stories about the Royal Columbian Hospital since 1861 – before it even opened. The following are four that really don’t need any explanation – they tell their stories all on their own.

NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – Chester Thorpe walked out of Royal Columbian Hospital Saturday, proud that his wife had given birth to a son, the couple’s first after four girls.
He returned to the hospital an hour later, and found he had not one son, but two – and another girl besides.
“We had no idea there was going to be a multiple birth”, said Thorpe.
The Leader-Post Nov 18, 1957 [Regina, Saskatchewan]

NEW WESTMINSTER – Dr. G.H. Manchester, 70, suffered serious burns on his face, hands and chest Thursday when a jar of ether exploded during an operation at Royal Columbian Hospital. Hospital attendants reported his condition as “fair”.
The explosion is believed to have occurred when an electric spark from a diathermy machine ignited ether vapours around the patient. The flames shot into the jar being held by Dr. Manchester who was administering the anaesthetic for a mouth operation.
Miss Ruth Hughes, a nurse, suffered cuts from flying glass. The patient was uninjured.
Edmonton Journal – June 28, 1945

NEW WESTMINSTER – Coroner Jones held an inquest yesterday upon the body of John Gross, recently admitted into the Royal Columbian Hospital from Yale. It appears that the poor fellow, who was suffering from disease of the heart and asthma, got up during Monday night, and finding his way to the surgery, helped himself to a phial of chloroform. Returning to his couch he saturated his handkerchief with the liquid and applied it to his nostrils, doubtless with a view to assuaging the pain. He was found dead next morning.
British Colonist – Oct. 26,1866


This picture shows the new home for nurses at the Royal Columbian Hospital, built at a cost of approximately $50,000 of which $25,000 was obtained from a bylaw passed by New Westminster residents, and the balance contributed by the provincial government and the hospital. The building contains accommodation for 58 nurses.
The nurses’ home, situated on the east side of the main building, is an imposing three-storey structure, built of concrete with stucco finish and asbestos slate roof. Of solid but symmetrical architectural lines, the main central entrance adds a touch of impressive and pleasing dignity to the façade. In addition to providing sleeping quarters and home accommodation for 58 nurses, with adequate facilities, the building contains commodious social rooms and quarters.
Delightfully Cosy
The spacious sitting room, situated at the north end of the building, has been made delightfully cosy and attractive by the members of the Girls’ Auxiliary of the hospital. These young ladies undertook the complete furnishing and equipment of the nurses’ social room, finding the money, selecting the colour scheme, furniture, rugs and making the curtains themselves, and the result is wonderfully effective.
A spacious library room is provided, and on the main floor, there is a small reception room. The office and suite for the use of the home matron is also located on this floor.
The instructional work of the home is provided for by a large classroom equipped for lecture and practical demonstration work. The building constitutes a very handsome and complete unit to the hospital group, its solid construction, adequate facilities and serviceable but dainty furnishings making it appear particularly pleasing and attractive.
Many Patients Treated
E.S. Withers, the general manager of the hospital, has been associated with the institution since 1911, when he was appointed secretary, and has watched it grow from an institution handling approximately 90 patients a month to its present proportions. Extent of the service of the present institution is indicated by the fact that in August this year it cared for 352 individual patients who, collectively, received 4663 hospital days treatment.
Miss C.E. Clark, the superintendent in charge of the nursing staff, is a comparatively recent member of the organization. She has brought to the hospital a store of experience gained from years of association with some of the larger hospitals of the Dominion.
Vancouver Sun Jan 24, 1931

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