Article from the Almonte Gazette

Provided by Fran Cooper - [email protected]


Article from the Almonte Gazette


Thursday, May 13, 1971

The Doctors of Almonte ... In the First half of the century - John Francis Dunn

In those days, even as at present, Almonte had three doctors, a medical triumvirate whose names were household words in the community and the district. Alphabetically, they were Dunn, Kelly and Metcalfe. The first was my father.

He came to Almonte in the later months of 1911, and the circumstances were both fortuitous and amusing. In early August of that year the town lost Dr. D. P. Lynch through death. Shortly after, Father J. F. McNally, newly appointed parish priest in Almonte (a Prince Edward Islander by birth, and subsequently Archbishop of Halifax) wrote to my father at Elgin in Leeds County, pointing out the death of Dr. Lynch.

"a man whose place in the community it would not be easy to fill, for he was not only physician, but friend and counsellor to almost all of our people in the district, and to many outsiders as well."

The letter concluded with a request for Dr. Dunn to come to Almonte, and added an irresistible bonus attraction:

"If it be an extra inducement, the late doctor was chairman of the Reform or Liberal association in the riding, so that that honour likely awaits you too."

Physician, friend, and counsellor. Each of the medical trio of the first half f the century fitted that description, my father not the least. This, then is the way it was with him.

For eighty-five years he gave his day of birth as nineteenth of June, and only then did he discover from the parish records that he had been born on the nineteenth of May. In any event, it all began May, 1871, and he was named John Francis Dunn.

It was an exciting time to be born. The previous summer, Paris, the city of Lights on the Seine saw the Kaiser’s troops in triumphal procession on Champs Elysees, a terrifying witness of 'might makes right.’ And in the ancient city of the Caesar's on the Tiber, a solemn conclave proclaimed as dogma the papal infallibility.

In a muddy settlement of three hundred, called Fort Garry, at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in the domain of the "Governor and Company of adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay, a semi-literate half-breed named Louis Riel had the unparalleled nerve to proclaim a ‘provisional government’ of Indians and Metis in opposition to Queen Victoria and pax Britannica. And in Almonte on the Mississippi, the parishioners of St. Mary’s celebrated the laying of the corner stone of a new church being built on the ashes of the former edifice which had been destroyed by fire on the preceding Christmas Eve.

It was only five years after Lee’s surrender of the Confederate Army of Virginia at Appomattox Court House, and five years before the Dominion Telegraph Company of Toronto had an astounding experience , later told by its first president in these words:

"We received a request from a Professor Bell who had a contraption made of magnets, Russian sheet iron and a coil of wire which he wished to test on our telegraph lines between Brantford and Paris for the purpose of ascertaining whether it would talk like a human being or not. We thought him a crank, but permitted the test to be made, not expecting a miracle which occurred. It did talk, much to everyone’s surprise."

In a pioneer community every human activity has its order and value. Education is always a luxury item, and those who obtain it learn to appreciate its worth, perhaps because its interruptions and uncertainties area true mirror of the unsettled life of the community. So it was with my father. His education at the village school was interrupted early by his mother’s death, and the eternal necessity of helping out on the family’s marginal acres.

The manner of his mother’s passing was peculiarly poignant, and probably left with him a strong feeling of compassion for those in suffering which is so characteristic of every physician. This is how he told it to me:

"it was a fine Saturday morning in late April when I was in my eleventh year. The sun was warm and pleasant. A cousin of mine from over at Phillipsville had driven into the yard with a horse and buggy, and all the men had gathered to get the news of friends and relatives whom they had not seen during the winter months. In the midst of the talk, my mother came to the door of the house, called me over, and said: ‘Have your father ask the men to come into the house and start the prayers for the dying, for I know I am about to die." ..... And. indeed, she was dead within the hour."

His father’s concern for his mother’s suffering also left an imprint on my father, and probably fixed even more deeply the element of compassion, and prompted his interest in the study of medicine. For he said:

"My mother had been ill for some time with what I now know was the scourge of the Irish - tuberculosis! All known resources of medical science had proven ineffective; yet my father had heard of a doctor in Ottawa who had gained a reputation for bring able to heal where all else had failed. In spite of advice to the contrary, he would not be content without at least trying, no matter what the cost nor how slight the hope. The doctor was persuaded to come out from Ottawa, but , of course, his efforts were to be to no avail.

In due time the doctor’s bill came, amounting to $40.00. My father sold 17 steers at two dollars each to pay his obligation and, in fact, the balance remained a debt which was not discharged until some years later when I paid it off".

Hard times indeed for a young Canadian nation, just fifteen years old, and with precious little in the way of resources to ward off the impact or lessen the cruelty of economic depression! The fur, fish, farm economy of the pioneers had been stopped cold. We seldom know where we’ve come from; and it was that my father never complained about the Great depression of the Nineteen-Thirties: he had known the depression of the Eighteen-eighties, whose unplumbed grimness could scarcely be comprehended by those of a half century later.

At the age of twenty he realized the hopelessness of gainful and rewarding satisfaction from scratching out a subsistence living on a marginal farm, and, as so many of the same generation did, he forsook the farm for the classroom. In 1876 the Ontario Government set in being a plan to overcome economic hardship by encouraging further education. Model schools were established for each county. The Leeds County Model School was at Athens, and so thither he went at the age of twenty and took the four-year high school course in one year, and qualified at the same time to teach in the rural schools of the district.

Sweet’s Corners, Delta, Kingston. These were the places he taught, at a salary of $300.00 per year. The years of teaching had their unseen merit - they taught him that the pursuit of knowledge was terribly important, and that there must be some better way of learning than by teaching. It was only natural the that thoughts of still further education should call up in his mind the study of medicine. And, At the turn of the century, medicine meant McGill!

Lister was there! Sir Joseph Lister, the renowned teacher, whose students regarded him with something akin to awe, who impressed his students with the need to observe, to weigh cause and effect, to be scrupulous in attention to detail, - and to judge slowly. Faith indeed cometh by hearing, and Lister’s message registered with my father. Throughout his life he distrusted nostrums and quacks with equal zeal.

In 1904 he graduated in medicine from McGill, but, privately he was told that it was unlikely that he would ever practise medicine. Chesterton remarked in one of his paradoxical statements that the more we look at a thing, the less we see it. The factor of heredity might have flashed a warning signal to my father: the scourge of the Irish, the Indian and the Negro - the latest races in mankind’s history to be exposed to the tuberculin bacillus - it struck him too, at graduation!

He worked , however, at the job and the disability as a ship’s doctor and the combination of fresh air, sunshine, plenty of rest , and a natural stamina worked a miracle during the North Atlantic runs, and he made a complete and permanent recovery.

By Christmas of 1911 he had handed over his practise to his brother in Elgin, had taken up the invitation of Father McNally, and had moved into Dr. Lynch’s house in Almonte. He was becoming acquainted with the community and its people, including Mary H. Moynihan. And in July, 1917 they married.

The end of the war years in 1918 signalled the beginning of the end for the horse and buggy as the country doctor’s reliable means of transportation. Professor Bells’ contraption had proven itself for communication, and the automobile was on the verge of a breakthrough in transportation. The first of my father’s horseless carriages was a Studebaker by breed and touring by class. I well mind the 1926 Huppmobile, a great square block on wheels, and a glorious Saturday in late April when there was a trip to be made to Darling. The unshielded strength of the sun that day would doubtless burn through the blankets of snow and expose the ploughed fields to a new spring. The temptation to take the car was overpowering, and I was invited to go along, since we would be taking "the Good roads."

We drove to Carleton Place, and on to Perth, and thence to Lanark, all the good roads. We got about a mile further , and ran aground, mired in a sea of mud at ten-thirty in the morning. Without a moment’s hesitation, my father reached behind, picked up his black bag, stepped out, and said to me: "I’ll be back."

It was a long day, even for a Saturday. The sun shone, the snow melted, the water ran. I pitched stones at fence posts and telephone poles, first with the right hand, and then with the left. I watched the riverlets as they ran along the furrows, leaped into the ditch, and fled away. By late afternoon only tatters of snow were left by the fence rows. Then, in the distance spied two men and a team of horses. It took but a minute to hitch a chain to the bumper and for the horse to nudge the car out of its anchorage. Because the road had been stiffened with the decline of the afternoon sun, we got back to Lanark without further ado. At that point my curiousity prompted my question: "how far did you have to walk?" His reply was matter-of-fact: "About seven miles."

But it was the calls to go out at night in dead of winter which must have been trying. They were trying indeed to the horse, for he never ceased to make his annoyance known and felt.

The procedure was simple. Essentially it consisted in fuelling up horse and driver and heating bricks in the oven to be placed in the bottom of the cutter. During this stoking-up interval, the phone would frequently ring a second time with the message: The snow is heavy in the bush and the fences are covered. Tell the doctor to take the shortcut across the fields and through the bush, and we’ll send some one to meet him with the lanterns." Once the horse was harnessed, hitched to the cutter, and brought round to the office door, he would climb in, dressed up in buffalo coat, sheepskin hat, fur-lined gauntlets, he would set his feet on the bricks, pull the buffalo robe over his knees, snap the reins and away.

Sometimes he would be gone two days, and would return, perishing with cold, so stiff that he would literally fall out of the cutter at the office door, and the horse would walk round to the stable door on his own. His recollection of many such trips was full of admiration because everything at the table was home-grown except, the tea, sugar and salt!

He was never an accountant, and he posted few bills. But, communication was made somehow. Frequently it happened that some client would be in town on a Saturday and would leave off at the house a quarter of beef, a side of pork, or a bag of potatoes. In fact, I have the fondest recollection of a box of wild ducks which flew in from White Lake one stormy Saturday shortly after the close of the season.

By 1950, in spite of the prediction made at Graduation, he had practised medicine for half a century almost, and then came an opportunity to preach what he practised. It was the concluding banquet of the annual meeting of the Ontario Medical Association in the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. The main ballroom overflowed with Ontario’s medical mighty. Four doctors were to be honoured with life memberships, he being one. In deference to each, a few words would be expected, and, in deference to his age, he would be last.

His theme was simple - what makes a physician, he made no apology for answering from experience. It was a cantata of moving symbolism, a gaze into the iridescent pool of human society known to the country doctor, where was mirrored the magic of medicine men throughout the ages. He spoke of the infinite mystery and inexplicable veneration attached to the physician, a privileged race amongst men to light the spark for the newly-born, to shield the flame of the fever-ridden, and to guard the guttering candle of the dying. He held out to them the ancient Hippocratic oath of selfless devotion to others, counting not the cost to self, for the physician’s too is a kind of life divine, spent in caring for the human spark on earth, and passing it undimmed to eternity. Such he showed he was.

As he spoke a pregnant hush encompassed the room: as he concluded, pandemonium erupted... He had stirred the fire divine in the breast of every doctor, and he had strummed on the heartstrings of medicine men everywhere.

It was that inner sense of sympathy and compassion for others., a characteristic which is never so well displayed as it is within the orbit of the family. Even at the age of eighty-eight, he was visiting old patients, more as friend and counsellor than as physician, for their illnesses were expiring along with their days.

One ferociously hot July evening he asked if I could take time out to drive him to see H........ As we drove he apologized for taking up my time, and said:

"I started to walk up this afternoon, but at the bridge over the creek I was overcome with a weak turn and fell down in the roadway. I managed to crawl to the side of the road and leaned against a telephone pole for twenty minutes until enough strength returned for me to walk back home.

It was another seizure, and one day there will be another, much more massive than all the others, and the heart will not be able to stand it, and it will be the end. I can tell you these things because you can understand them. But, I wouldn’t tell your mother, she would only worry!’

His interest in new things never flagged. Early in May, 1961, he was one of the first patients in the new Almonte General Hospital. I had made a trip to Vancouver on one of the first DC-8 non-stop jet flights from Toronto. On my return I told him about it: a seven o’clock morning flight from Ottawa to Toronto, departure from Toronto at nine, and arrival in Vancouver at ten-thirty, Pacific Time. A forty-five minute bus ride to the hotel left me fifteen minutes to get to Sunday Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral at eleven-thirty.

He pondered this leaping over the continent, and then gazed out the window to the marvellously peaceful view of the river, and said:

"The world is a most interesting place. I’ve had a full life and have enjoyed many interesting things and people. There are many more interesting things I'd like to undertake, but I know there isn’t time for me. I leave that to you and the others, for I’m ready to go."

And so it also ended for him in the month of May, on the 28th of May, 1961, in his ninety-first year. To many in the community and the district he was indeed physician, friend and counsellor - my father.

John Dunn

15 March 1971.


Article from the Almonte Gazette,

Thursday, June 3, 1971

The Doctors of Almonte ... In the First Half of the Century - John King Kelly

By today’s Almonte standards, Dr. John King Kelly would have been regarded as someone almost unique (and therefore, certainly strange) - he was a native son. He was educated in Almonte, studied medicine at McGill in Montreal, and returned to Almonte to practise for nigh on half a century before retiring in 1946. He died in 1954 and lies buried in the family plot in St. Paul’s Anglican Cemetery.

His antecedents were praiseworthy - his father came from Leeds County. He was a stone mason and came to Almonte to work with Wm. Willoughby, the contractor who built the old stone arch bridge which stood for many years over the gorge by the power house, and who also worked on the building of the Methodist Church (now Dungarvon Industries).

Mr. Kelly’s industry, skills and temperament must have found favour with his employer, as can be readily deduced from the fact that he married one of the Willoughby girls. He won acceptance in Almonte, through assimilation!

John King was the eldest in the well-known athletic Kelly family, which included Billy, the famous lacrosse player, and Dick, a well-known runner. Born in 1874, he was formally admitted to the kingship of God and the kinship of man through baptism in St. Paul’s Anglican Church, administered by the Reverend J.K. McMorine, rector during the years 1870-1877, and himself, the son of Rev. John McMorine, second minister of the Auld Kirk in 1846.

The work of building the Almonte High School had commenced in 1871

(a co-incident centennial this year) so that by the time that John King Kelly was ready for its academic ministrations, the institution was fully-formed and flexing its academic muscle. He was able then to complete the high school course in Almonte and proceed directly to study medicine, unmolested by the temptations of teaching. He graduated from McGill in 1896 at the age of 22.

So often in our experience it seems that tragedy attends the brave. The courage that Doctor Kelly displayed during half a century of medical practice in Almonte was formed and tempered in his final year at McGill. It was a year spent in a wheel chair!

He was told with finality that he would assuredly never practise medicine. It was arthritis - perhaps today it would be further diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis - and it was crippling. Daily he was pushed in his wheel chair to classes by another student named Kendrick whose consideration for the Kelly brand of courage was a forerunner of countless acts of similar consideration by gently perceptive patients and friends in Almonte in subsequent years. He spent six months in New York after graduation taking intensive curative and restorative therapy before it was possible to return - where else but Almonte? - but with permanent deformity of the spinal column and the metatarsal bones of the feet. Thomas Aquinas once wrote "philosophic ancilla theologize" - philosophy is the handmaiden of theology. Equally true is it that pain is the handmaiden of medicine and her sharp bite in back and feet honed Dr. Kelly’s medical skills daily to alert pitch.

But if pain is the handmaiden of medicine, it may also be a symbol of a specially preserve kind of magnetism surrounding a medicine man and which seems to attract to him a disproportionate amount of the more perverse features of our human nature. Doctor Kelly married a Brockville girl, Mayme Price, but they both she and her infant son died in childbirth.

But the doctor married a second time: he married his nurse.

Gertrude Shields was born at Tichborne Junction near Sharbot Lake on the old K and P line, or, as some of its disgruntled patrons along the right of way used to call it, "The Kick and Push." Early in life she determined to follow a quasi-missionary bent and went to train as a nurse in Worcester, Massachusetts. In those days nursing was a serious calling, and its devotees were expected to prepare themselves through rigorous training. No time off, no holidays, no visit back home - just three years of constant work and study. Massachusetts was a semi - Puritan Commonwealth still, but the friendships that crystallized in its spartan training were granite-like in their lasting qualities. Miss Shields of Tichborne Junction in Ontario had two fast friends in training; they were Miss Briggs, from Prince Edward Island, and Miss Thorpe, from Nebraska, (after whom, of course, Thorpe Kelly was named).

Gertrude Shields returned to Canada a fully-fledged nurse, and in 1904 she joined the Victorian Order of Nurses in Ottawa. Her first assignment was to the cottage hospital in Almonte, now the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Walker. When the Rosamond Memorial Hospital was built in 1907, Miss Shields was appointed its first superintendent, and was in this capacity when the official ceremony of opening the hospital took place in the summer of 1909 with the Governor-General, Earl Grey of Falloden as the guest of honour.

In September of that year Miss Shields and Dr. Kelly were married.

In the beginning it was a quiet area where they lived, and worked and where the doctor had his office in the brick house on Little Bridge Street across from the Post Office. It suited them well, for Mrs. Kelly’s nursing instincts told her that the doctor would need plenty of quiet hours to restore his energies.

But it changed. First, they installed the clock in the post office tower. Eleven great gongs in the first hour of sleep time, that’s bad enough: what does one say to twelve? Or three? Or six? Then another local improvement was added. They took away the bell in the fire hall tower and substituted a siren, electrically operated, whose bone-chilling scream in dead of night from a distance of one hundred yards is enough to shred the curtains of sleep for many nights.

Well, the Thoburn Mill next door took note of the general improvements, and decided to install a bell to summon its workers. It was a real clanger. Its first summons went at six a.m., with a follow-up at six-thirty. Then came a trio of calls at six-fifty, six-fifty-five and with a single small fit at 7:00 the bell ceased. But only to signal the discordant clacking of the start-up of looms for the day. In subtle counterpoint to this daily melody of dins and rattles of trains over the subway as they sent crashing reverberations echoing in shattering waves off the walls of the small canyon to the doctor’s door.

The first two decades of the century were an age of beliefs, if not of faith, and beliefs which were held on to with bulldog tenacity. The Almanac set our folk medicine remedies, gave weather forecasts for a whole year, as well as astronomical observations, high and low tides, what to do for cuts, scrapes, burns, colds, chills, fevers, bruises, breaks and boils. Halley’s Comet appeared on his regular visitation in 1910 after the seventy--five year absence, and as usual, great things were expected to coincide with the appearance. It came as no surprise then that Jim Hogan stood heroically "between the flags" for the Almonte lacrosse team, nor that the negro, Jack Johnson, roundly defeated the unbeatable Jim Jeffries in San Francisco, confounding the concept of white supremacy in the squared circle. Bennet Rosamond died, and down in Brockville the 41st regiment was called out by the authorities to put down the strike of the Grand Trunk Railway workers against the Establishment.

Louis Pasteur had probed into the secrets of bacterial life, and showed that things unseen were also militaristic in character, with phalanxes of good microbes constantly fending off the attacks of battalions of enemy. And Sir Joseph Lister’s crusade for antiseptic conditions in operating rooms was followed religiously in surgery cases in the Almonte hospital.

In October of 1910 the Public Health Conference listened to an exhaustive address from Dr. Charles A. Hodgetts, medical adviser to the Public Health Committee of the House of Commons on the serious pollution of waterways in Canada and the United States. And five minutes’ walk from the Centre Block, the Ottawa City Council met in the city hall to consider a proposal to bring in the city’s water supply from McGregor’s Lake because of repeated outbreaks of typhoid fever caused by drinking water in the city’s mains which had been pumped in from the Ottawa River. Well, this was Ottawa’s problem, and it was serious for the 86,106 people and 1856 dogs in 1910 census.

It is not surprising to note that the Almonte Town Council was wrestling with " a report from the committee appointed to examine Union Almonte and Ramsay Contagious Hospital." The Pest House! Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose! Virulent outbreaks of contagion in the form of typhoid fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, smallpox, as well as injuries due to explosions, train accidents, runaways, kicks from horses - these were the common complaints. Strangely enough, newer forms of injuries were coming to the notice of medical practise due to crashing automobiles, and falls from flying machines.

In Almonte Doctor Kelly would "make his rounds" every day, stopping in the homes, and visiting the sick person and the family. It was then only natural that the doctor should fulfill the three concurrent roles of physician, friend and counsellor. Mrs. Kelly would frequently go along with the doctor on his rounds "to hold the horse", little knowing that the hazard of the horse was, in those days, almost as great as the hazard of fire. One day in Irishtown the horse balked at her restraint, and John Gilpin's famous ride through Islington was repeated with Mrs. Kelly being taken on a wild ride through the streets, across the bridge, and through the subway until the horse came smack up against the door of the foundry where two moulders seized the bridle and rescued the terrified Mrs. Kelly.

Then there was the time when the doctor had gone out to Aitkenhead’s, a mile out of town along the extension of Country Street. He was returning when it happened. He had to get out of the cutter to shut the gate over the CPR right of way. At the very moment of shutting the gate, the horse took fright and ran off, spilling out the robes and a dozen eggs which Mrs. Aitkenhead had given the doctor to take home. It was the same horse, with the same affinity for foundries. Mr. Montgomery was sent out from the livery stable to fetch the doctor, and found him walking slowly along the road with the buffalo robe over his shoulder, and cradling in his arm the dozen eggs which fortunately had not been broken when flung out.

Consultations with colleagues were frequent but not formal. On one black night, as Mrs. Rooney used to say "black as the inside of a cow," Doctor Kelly and Doctor Dunn were returning in a buggy along the old Perth Road following consultation on a difficult case. The team got off the path and immediately became tangled in barbed wire. The telling of lies, as the Irish phrase would have described it, ceased temporarily, while Doctor Dunn walked back a mile and a quarter and roused a farmer who willingly came to their rescue and got the horses back on the uncertain track.

In his civic capacity, Doctor Kelly acted for many years as the town’s Medical Officer of Health, quietly endeavouring to improve the conditions which would eliminate the virulent outbreaks of fever. Even more quietly, he was a patron of the Library. Indeed, when Elizabeth assumed her heavy responsibilities as Town Librarian from Miss Forgie, the doctor noticed that the library had no typewriter. Quietly, he secured an Underwood; It’s there now, in daily use.

Clearly then the doctor’s role in the community was one of quiet, unaffected devotion to the people, and the people frequently reciprocated in small ways by gentle perception of the doctor’s needs. For example, there was Milly, the telephone operator. It took a special kind of courage to break in on the party line to Clayton and Union Hall. Yet, Elizabeth would merely have to allude to a need, and Milly would break in, and get instant co-operation with:

"There’s an urgent message for Dr. Kelly. Would you please clear the line that he can take this call from home."

or

"Would you watch for Doctor Kelly passing by, and stop him to give him this message...."

He never took a holiday, but he enjoyed the moments of quiet relaxation when he and Thorpe would wet a line in the pools where the bass lurked below the falls, and on rare occasions, Mr. Rosamond would take him up to Deux Rivieres to a fishing camp.

Sports! He lived for them. But, because of his physical handicaps, it was largely a vicarious interest. He would travel all over the area wherever a baseball game or a football game was to be played so that Thorpe would be able to take it all in. As president of the famous Almonte Hockey Club in the Thirties, he took great pride in its record-breaking achievements, and he made it a small private rule never to charge a fee for repairs to an athlete’s scrapes, bruises, burns or breaks.

In the years immediately following World War 1, he and some other stalwarts, including W.C. Pollock, Jack Barker, Jim Moncur, Don Campbell, Jim Patterson, M. R. MacFarlane and some others organized a golf club in Almonte. Thorpe was the doctor’s caddy.

In two significant respects, the layout of Almonte Golf Links was an image of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club’s links at St. Andrew’s in Scotland, the mecca of golfdom. There, to the right of the first fairway lies the brooding North Sea, and midway down, a creek with vertical stone walls intersect the fairway, draining off to the sea. In Almonte, the Mississippi lay on the right, and three quarter of the way down, a gully cut athwart the fairway just beyond where John Rooney’s Christmas scene appears in December.

It took a strong-willed golfer to play the ball sensibly to the near side of the gully, and then play safely to the green for two. The temptation was to go all out - to go for the green in one. Dr. Kelly’s drive was notorious for its slice, and, of course, the sides of the gully became pock-marked with the shattered dreams of Almonte’s golfing gentry. However, most golfers are notoriously slow learners, which is probably why their enjoyment of the game lies in inverse ratio to their learning rate. So it was with Doctor Kelly: he did thoroughly enjoy the game, and the quiet Mississippi continued to flow along, rippling gently past the gully, its inscrutably mordant smile reflecting the eccentricities it beheld in men who would dare mix medicine with golf.

Television brought the blessings of the game into the living room and the thrills of the play brought sparks to those in retirement. On Grey Cup day in 1954 Billy Pollock dropped in to the doctor’s house of retirement on Elgin Street, and the two old friends watched delightedly as the Etcheverry to O’Quinn option pass failed, and was snatched out of the air by Jackie Parker on the last play of the game to give Edmonton a 26-25 victory over Montreal.

In fact, they enjoyed the game so much that Billy Pollock returned the next day, Sunday, and the two old friends watched the replay with as much enjoyment as on the first run.

On Tuesday of that week, November 28, 1954, John Kelly hung up his cleats for good, the game finished, the race over. He had confounded his preceptors at McGill by practising the healing arts in Almonte and the district for almost fifty years. And at the end of the half century he had proven himself, physician, friend and counsellor - a prince among men.

John Dunn

August 1971


Article from the Almonte Gazette,

Thursday, July 1, 1971

The Doctors of Almonte ... In the First half of the century - Archibald Albert Metcalfe

Historians of the next two centuries in focusing attention on the first half of this one, will undoubtedly conclude that we had sown the dragon’s teeth of discord to reap such a whirlwind of destruction through war. The Boer War of 1900, the Russo-Japanese War of 1910, the Armageddon of World War 1, the smaller, but equally deadly Italo-Ethiopian Civil conflict of 1935 and the Spanish Civil War of 1936 and the apogee of death and destruction in World War 11, these years record a staccato-like succession of the horrors of war.

It should not be surprising to find that memorable events in the lives of men of these decades are associated with something military as a bench mark, nor that we should find in the same military events those elements which the Spanish recognize as that decisive, inspiring, and dramatic thing called Moment of Truth.

So it was on my first visit to Doctor Metcalfe’s office as a patient: - it was routine, it was military, and it contained (unbeknownst to me) the elements of Moment of Truth. It was this way.

It was late June 1941, immediately after I graduated from the University of Toronto. Having had a slight amount of training in khaki at university, and having heard that the local regiment was about to be mobilized, I made application to be enlisted as a private soldier under the regimental banner of the Lanark and Renfrew Scottish, and was instructed by that quiet-voiced quartermaster of the Almonte company, Michael Rooney, to take myself to Doctor Metcalfe for medical examination.

Only a few days before I had knelt in turn along with 1500 others, before the Chancellor of the University, Sir William Mulock, and rejoiced inwardly as that patriarch intoned those magic words "Admitto te ad gradum" and then handed me a rolled-up sheepskin. In his concluding remarks to the convocation, Sir William said to us: "Now there you all are, clutching in your hands the parchment, and saying to yourselves: "At last, I’ve made it: I’m educated, here’s the proof."

"Before you leave the confines of your alma mater", said he, "there's only one more thought I’d like to give you, and it is this: that parchment does not prove that you are educated: it merely states that in our opinion you can learn, and that you are fit to go out and start to learn."

Subconsciously these words were still on my mind as Doctor Metcalfe took the Army’s attestation form and began filling in the required information. His office had a combination scales, with a knife-edge sliding bar to measure weight, and a sliding halo-like clamp on a vertical rod to measure height. He invited me to stand on the scales, and after adjusting the knife-edge bar, he marked down 165 lbs. He then adjusted the clamp on the vertical rod, squinted a little to the left, peered intently upward, and mumbled "Eighteen hands, two".

I boggled momentarily, wondering if the Army had suddenly gone metric, in this state of confusion, I begged the doctor's pardon and asked him to repeat his calculation. He put it straight:

"Eighteen hands, two inches" said he. "You’re higher than the average horse!"

It was the Moment of Truth: the end of education, the beginning of learning.

Archibald Albert Metcalfe was a native of Ramsay. His grandfather, James Metcalfe had arrived in North America with his wife in 1819, four years after the Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. At Prescott, the staging place on the St. Lawrence, their son Hugh was born. Shortly after, the young family came up river to Brockville, and then overland along the military trail to Perth, where they collected their provisions and implements and then set out to claim their grant of one hundred acres in Ramsay.

It was in 1869 when the future doctor was born, the last of the family of twelve children to Hugh Metcalfe and Jean MacLean, and the only one to be born into Confederation. The homestead was located where the beautiful stone house stands atop the knoll on the Clayton Road midway between the eighth and ninth lines, and from which a sloping expanse falls away to the Mississippi River valley below. The similarity of this setting to many of the slopes in Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire in Scotland is indeed quite striking: it suggests that " in mists the homeland seen again" may have been the reason why the Scottish pioneers named their township after George Ramsay, Earl of Dalhousie and Governor of Canada.

Archie Metcalfe was educated at the Tannery School, adjacent to the Auld Kirk Cemetery, and at the Almonte High School under P.C. McGregor, and at the Lanark County Model School in Perth where he learned the lasting art of giving instructions. Even though he taught school for three years at MacDonald's Corners, he always had the dream of the medicine man and hence, he left teaching to pursue the medical and healing arts at Queen’s University in Kingston, from which he received the M.D.C.M. degree in 1896.

This corner of Ramsay where he was brought up was still in a pioneering community when "A. A." was in his formative years, and it gave the world a number of native sons who achieved greatness. Ten boys in his graduating class from the Almonte High School in 1888 included Dr. John H. McArthur, Dr. Metcalfe, Alex Young George Hourigan, Sir Edward Peacock, Dr. Wm. Kendrick, Dr. John Fenton Argue, Professor Wm. Whyte, Senator Andrew Hayton and Dr. Thomas Barnett.

When the energies of the sons of the pioneers were no longer needed solely to ensure survival, it was only natural that their outlook should be directed and channelled to the needs of man, spiritual, social and physical, through dedication to the Church, the law and to medicine. Relying upon "the halesome parritch, chief of Scotia’s food" as Burns called it, for physical strength, the stern tenets of the Kirk for spiritual strength, and its pride in mutual strength for time of need, the community nurtured here a heritage of dedicated service which is beautifully distilled in Tait McKenzie’s medallion "Joy of Effort" as well as in Browning’s phrase in Andrea Del Sarto:

"Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Else what’s a heaven for?"

In this heritage, the view was firmly held that it was not enough to strive, nor to expect to win always. It was that failure must sometimes come, but that it should be a noble failure. Such was the characteristic tenor of their ways in Ramsay, and such it was that persuaded Archibald Albert Metcalfe to pass up teaching at MacDonald’s Corners for medicine at Queen’s. He followed this up with post-graduate training under the Mayo Brothers, Charles and William at their famous clinic at Rochester, Minnesota. And then, he returned to Almonte, the centre of the Lanark universe, to practise medicine from an office in the former West department Store ( now John Erskine’s IGA).

It was the age of the fighter, and Doctor Metcalfe was a man of his age. All kinds of causes flourished, and all needed fighters, because the compelling forces of logic and knowledge are never sufficient to overcome the inborn obstinacy of men’s minds on the face of something new and different. In the circumstances of rapid change then taking place in Almonte and Ramsay, Doctor Metcalfe early became a true believer in his own opinions. In this, however, he was not unique - it was but a mark of the age to fight for and hold tenaciously to beliefs and opinions. The Ottawa Journal of October 10, 1910 gives a good example of this. In this issue it carried an article reporting the death of a well-known Leeds County dairyman and director of the Milk Producers’ Association, Mr. R. G. Murphy of Brockville. The Journal’s article concluded with this summary:

"He was an ex-member of the town council, was actively engaged with social and fraternal societies, including the Masons, the Methodist Church and the Liberal Party."

To which one of Mr. Murphy’s erstwhile opponents commented with unruffled equanimity: "Twas the only way out, considering the company he kept. "

In Almonte, most of the recorded fights took place in the squared circle of municipal politics, the elective kind, where preliminaries and main events could be judged impartially by the populace. Into this arena Doctor Metcalfe burst like a rocket in 1900, a shining crusader, upholding the mildly socialistic view that generation of electricity at the falls was in the best interests of all people, and that the means of production should be a power house owned and controlled by the town. From this initial bout in1900 until the year before his death in 1962, the doctor figured in the main events only. Although he served on the town council from 1901, and was mayor for at least seven terms, he is undoubtedly remembered more for his electrifying pronouncements at the Public Utilities Commission than his assertions as mayor. He was a kind of John the Baptist for Ontario Hydro, for in 1954 he was presented with a scroll by Hydro; "in grateful recognition of his contribution to the program of municipal Hydro systems of the province by his devoted service as Hydro Commissioner."

To the very end he maintained an avuncular, nay even a paternal interest in the restless energy of the falls of the Mississippi.

In addition to hydraulics, his medical training was put to community use in another area as well - the heritage of sport. There is a picture of the Almonte lacrosse Club of 1903, showing each player with arms akimbo, brave to a man, and the names of the heroes inscribed beneath: C. Tyron, F. Malone, W. Kelly, P. Malone, W. Kyle, E. McGregor, W. McArthur, C. Beckett, M. Gleeson, J. Voyce, C. Scott, S. Nagle, A Proctor,

J. C. Campbell, S. Cullen. Spread out below the heroes on the mere mortal level is "The Committee," unnamed all, but with one unmistakably clear countenance looking out - A. Metcalfe, head erect, eyes sharp, collar high and stiff.

This lacrosse population, so typical of the admixture of Celt and Gael, of townsmen and countrymen, of Almonte and Ramsay, this peculiarly vigorous Lanark strain was the population to whom Doctor Metcalfe ministered for sixty-three years as physician, friend and counsellor, and where he was always at home. Sometimes too much at home.

For if he was physician by vocation, he was horseman by avocation. One can only recall with disbelief an muted horror the smouldering incident in Bob Neill’s blacksmith shop on the Island, beside the river, only a stone’s throw form the doctor’s office. He had brought in his horse to be shod, but, nothing daunted, he also undertook to instruct the blacksmith on how to shoe the horse!

One need only suggest to the uninitiated that heat from forge and fire is as nothing compared to heat of opinion generated in a blacksmith shop. On this occasion the forge spit, the sparks they danced, and the flames grew wondrous hot. The blacksmith held in check his mounting rage until the pressure popped. Declaring the doctor must believe in the divine right of his own opinion, he invited opinion, horse and doctor to leave his shop. A half-hour later, cooled out entirely, and considering that he might have been a trifle wrathy, Mr. Neill went round to the doctor’ s stable and brought over the unoffending horse and shod him - properly.

The "Trots" in September of each year at the Almonte Fair brought out his competitive instinct as each heat saw the doctor’s driving skill pitted against that of Gus O’Connor, "Freezer" Montgomery, Bob White of Carleton Place and Lolly Grace of Huntley. But when he really made the scene was when the call went out for single horse and driver, light carriage class, and the doctor entered the ring, sitting bolt upright, a look of supreme satisfaction on his face, driving "Black Beauty", clucking in time to the exaggerated pacing of the horse, holding the lines trim, his whip outthrust in the right hand with its tassel tossing in the off-river breeze. It was a scene.

Doctor Metcalfe had a remarkable keen sense of humour which was displayed usually through quiet chuckles so that it could easily have been overlooked. He found particular delight in one of Stephen Leacock’s rhapsodies called " A New Pathology", a light piece in which Leacock begins by stating that medical science had made unparalleled strides, and had now succeeded in categorizing and naming all the diseases that afflict the body of man. But, there still remained an area of almost total neglect - the diseases that afflict a man’s clothing. Setting about remedying this situation, Leacock gave two major examples of the diseases, epidemic in their proportions among doctors of medicine as much as amongst doctors of philosophy.

They were: "Popposis buttonorum" or, popping of the buttons, and "Fractio suspendorum" or, snapping of the braces.

In the latter disease, said Leacock, the symptoms were easy to identify

"The victim is suddenly afflicted with a sinking feeling and suffers a deep sense of loss."

A doctor’s wife - it is a calling demanding particular dedication in the service of humanity. Such a one was Mrs. Metcalfe, the former Isabel Mitchell McCallum of St. Andrews, Scotland. She and Doctor Metcalfe were married in April 10th, 1900. Her untimely death in 1937 left a great gap in the doctor’s life and practice which was most generously filled by his wife’s niece, Miss Ishabel Mackenzie Guthrie, a trained nurse, who also came out from St. Andrews to fill in. The doctor’s longevity, and the respect his name still evokes in the district are sufficient testimony to the success that attended her patient ministrations. At the age of eighty-nine the doctor felt occasional weakness, and then he decided that the time had come; - it was not opportune, it was virtually necessary for Miss Guthrie to learn how to drive a car. None but the best teacher would do for this task: he undertook to give the lessons himself. Miss Guthrie is today the best known walker in all of Almonte and Ramsay.

Perhaps the only skill the doctor ever had difficulty in mastering (and this must be said with due deference to his own opinion) was that of driving a car. "Gee" and "Haw" got quick response in horse-language, especially when accented with a slight tug on the reins: indeed, they even worked now and then on the horseless carriage when supported by a slight tug on the steering wheel. But "Giddap" and "Whoa" - these were wholly unresponsive notes to Pontiac ears. And that’s where the trouble lay.

His habit was to rev up the engine to a high, whining pitch, and then (but only then) loosen his foot but a fraction of an inch on the clutch pedal. Of gears, he knew there was three for forward motion, but he was satisfied with one-first gear. It was a sad, but well-documented fact that Gordon Knight changed clutches for the doctor at regular four-day intervals, until Gordon (an inventive genius) devised a modification to assist the doctor’s driving skill. He took a heavy coiled spring from a worn-out manure spreader and fitted it in addition to the car’s clutch return spring. The doctor’s foot pressure on the pedal was no match for the combined pressure of the rowdy pair of hidden springs, and the clutch burn-out ceased spectacularly.

One can now recollect, even with undisguised horror, the extremities to which some patients are put, and the unsurpassed wisdom of a lady in Pakenham township who phoned my father rather than Doctor Metcalfe one day to ask: "Doctor, I’m feeling kind of poorly and don’t know what the matter is. If you’ve got time I wish you would come out and run over me."

A striking peculiarity of the first three decades of this century was that some illnesses continued to baffle both doctors and politicians. Of the first kind, the newspapers continually advertised the doctor’s puzzlement. The conditions of 1910 were represented in these advertisements:

1) "Consumption"

Three Doctors Attended Her

Dr. Woods’ Norway Pine Syrup Cured Her.

The accompanying testimonial from the sick and one proved it:

"and after taking ten bottles I was completely cured."

2) "Then there is a large class of disorders which arise from a weakness of the nerves of an organ or part such as weak lungs, heart, stomach, kidney, bladder, eyes.

‘Nervine’ soothes the irritated nerves, and assists the nerve cells to generate nerve force."

Nerve Force! It was mere co-incidence that the same issue of the Journal carried a dispatch from Tacoma, Washington to the effect that a pretty Tacoma girl, contemplating the state of matrimony, made it known that she would welcome applications for her suit, each application to be accompanied by one dollar! Fortunately for a county doctor, such patients were rare.

Not so, however, with those suffering from nervous disorders of the political kind of illness. It was this way:

A Liberal effort was made in 1914 to be propelled to power on the strength of a rallying battle-cry "Ban-the-Bar!" But the age of moral uplift really came in 1919 with the election of the Farmer-Labour Administration, and the moral crusade was given to the people in a referendum of 1921 with this question:

"Shall the importation and the bringing on of intoxicating liquors into the Province be forbidden?"

The result on April 18th, 1921, was a resounding majority of 171,000 for the affirmative.

But, like all good law, this one also had its clause of exception, that spiritual aid could be obtained for medicinal purposes by prescription from a medical doctor.

The Liquor Licensing Board (a Toronto-based cabal) in examining the application of its superior standards of public virtue in the ensuing year in Ontario found that one doctor had issued 2,005 prescriptions in one month, and still another 487 in one day! Indeed, it was noted with dismay that the public’s need for this medicine reached an all-time high on the day before Christmas, 1922.

To the doctors of Almonte, the frequency of nervous disorder which required the remedy of medicinal spirits was indeed astounding. What was more astounding was that each victim knew instinctively what remedy he required by prescription. A new phrase of genuine folklore thus entered our language: it was known as "getting a line".

Leacock once remarked on this phenomenon: he said,

"it is necessary to go to a drugstore and lean against the counter and make a gurgling sigh like apoplexy. One often sees these apoplexy cases lined up four deep".

Dr. Metcalfe’s natural sense of compassion for those in such distress quickly came to the victim’s rescue , and he found wholesome satisfaction in providing a proven remedy to combat the epidemic of suffering. Indeed, it was the age of pride in craftsmanship as well as the age of moral uplift , and many of the doctor’s patients at the time stopped in their way to admire the fine new brick house he was building near the electric light plant, to remark to each other how carefully the bricklayers did the job - every brick was laid with a line.

As a country doctor, and as a countryman, nothing gave Doctor Metcalfe more pride in his profession and its service to the community than the nigh on three thousand babies whom he brought into the world. This could be called a Conservative estimate - it was his own. He had a particularly effective manner with the children on The Island, winning their confidence and trust easily, and treating their cuts and bruises with an application from his jar of personally-prepared liniment, equally suited for a spavined hock-joint on the foreleg as for abrasions and contusions on a small girl’s forearm.

In mid January 1962 he fell ill, and was taken to the Almonte General Hospital. Two weeks later, on February 1st, he died, still protesting that he had more work to do. For sixty-three years he had laboured amongst us: he had operated on a kitchen table of a farmhouse in a case of acute appendicitis, with Frank Honeywell holding a flashlight before getting the horse readied for the return trip, and he had held up the image of the hospital as a place of trust rather than a place of last resort. Yet, in his own case, ironically, his first visit to hospital was his last.

Archibald Albert Metcalfe - he was a mosaic of many colours in which physician, friend and counsellor predominated. To those who wonder at the strange colouration and disturbance of the mid-September sky over Almonte, now it can be told: it is he, the phantom horseman of the Almonte Fair, driving Black Beauty adown the harvest moonbeams, entering the ring, peering intently at the kind of competition there is, then waving his hand in another fond farewell.

John Dunn,

May, 1971.


Article from the Almonte Gazette,

Thursday, November 18, 1971

The Doctors of Almonte ... In the First Half of the Century - John F. Hanly, M. D. 1868-1927

Although I arrived in Almonte only near the end of Doctor Hanly’s career, we had a very close association nonetheless. My memory of it is but the clouded vision, but I have no doubt of the truth of it, for I have on the very best authority - the word of my mother.

There were three of us present - my mother, Doctor Hanly and myself, the last to arrive.

The doctor’s smart slap on my upturned posterior brought forth the response magnificent, the first human cry. With that he ushered me on the stage in the theatre of life, and kindled for me a small new flame from the embers of humanity. It was a familiar role for Jno. F. Hanly, M. D., in Almonte and district.

He was born in 1868 at Waubaushene, Ontario, where his father, also Dr. John Hanly, was the community doctor.

Waubaushene, of course, is an Ojibway Indian name for the town in a jewel-like setting on the lower end of Georgian Bay. It looks out to the 30,000 islands which form the domain of Manitou, the Indian’s paradise, and to Manitoulin Island, the largest gem in this sea of islands. It is the land of a thousand delights, the last camping ground in a place where summer never ends.

Georgian Bay at this place is highly indented, with innumerable outcrop pings of rock, deep harbours, and sandy foreshore. Pine and spruce girdle the forested islands and outline the mainland. Lumbering was the principal occupation in the last decades of the nineteenth century, and Doctor Hanly had a small wood-burning steam launch for travel to the remote camp sites.

Winter travel, of course, was much more arduous, frequently requiring long hours on snowshoes through the forest and along the shoreline. The younger John would accompany his father on these trips, and it was undoubtedly due to this experience that, with an average stature, he developed a very powerful physique with thick torso and upper limbs. Undoubtedly it was there also that he developed a deep love of nature which remained a characteristic of him throughout his life. For in the country of Manitou a man is neither landsman nor sea man exclusively: he must be at home on either rock or wave, where he can tune in to nature’s rhythms and feel its pulse in the slap-slap of water on keelson and fairing, the rising of the sun, and the slanting moonlight seeping through the snow-burdened spruce.

Doctor Hanly’s father was of Irish descent , but his mother was Pennsylvania Dutch. One wonders. Was this alliance of races a presage of the future direction and growth of the new Canadian nation? Did it suggest the Canadians would not build on the single basis of race common to many nations of the Old World, but that we would become a blend of many racial characteristics? One wonders.

With his father, travelling to the remote settlements around Georgian Bay, the future doctor learned a love of medicine, too. It was only natural, therefore, that he should be inclined to follow in his father’s footsteps after completing high school training at Orillia. He enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and graduated at the age of 23. He returned to work with his father for a short time in that strenuous practice among the islands before moving to Almonte in 1893.

J. R. Booth, the great lumber baron, had just completed his railway from Ottawa to parry Sound ( the line through Carp) to gain access to the remote white pine country, so that he could ship out the timber to Ottawa where it could be rafted and then floated down river to Montreal and to Wolfe’s Cove at Quebec. Dr. Hanly decided to ship out for the Ottawa Valley, too, and to settle in Almonte, or "Little Manchester" as it was called, because the names Rosamond, Thoburn , Penman, Caldwell, and Campbell made its fame worldwide in the textile trade, and its population of mill operatives, weavers, spinners, millwrights, labourers, moulders, dyers, carters, teamsters, watchmen, stone cutters, blacksmiths, painters, fullers, carders, spinsters and widows made a population where a doctor’s knowledge, skills, and energies could be spent in rewarding service to all the members of such an interesting community.

But, before he left, the doctor found even a third love, his greatest. Almost immediately after graduation he enlisted for life-time service in matrimony in the company of Jean Elizabeth Kean, who attended high school at Orillia at the same time as he did. They moved into residence in Almonte in the house on Bridge Street now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Winston MacIntosh and family. Three children were born to their family; Arthur, Bruce and Lois, Bruce, the only surviving member of the family, now resides in Montreal.

An age passes almost imperceptibly, its passing only noticed some time later by the absence of some familiar thing, or a change in some mark or symbol of the age. Three small things distinguished the age of Doctor Hanly’s 35 years of medical service to the people of Almonte and district. First, there was the matter of signature, and then the matter of the cane, and finally, the matter of animals in town.

"Jno. F. Hanly". That’s the way he signed his name. It was typical of the age, this fore-shortening of the Christian name. Business and professional men in Almonte and elsewhere used the apostolic abbreviations, Jas., Jno., Matt., Bart., Chris., and their Prophetic counterparts, Sam., Lem., Dan., and even those of saintly kings, Geo., Chas., and Wm. Most of these abbreviations have some element of logic in their use. Except Jno. Why John should be reduced to Jno. has always been a mystery to me. But there it was, a mark of the time.

Another mark of the age was the cane, the gentleman’s walking stick. Doctor Hanly liked to carry a cane when walking and he had quite a collection. He used a gold-headed cane for Sundays, but his favourite was an Irish blackthorn which his great friend and neighbour, Father W. E. Cavanagh of St. Mary’s brought to him following a trip the priest had made to the Holy Land of Ireland.

Howard Sadler vividly recalls another mark of the times: the numbers and locations of horses and cows in Almonte. He and his father were fortunate to be able to gather the manure for their market gardening operations. Doctor Hanly always drove a big horse, for the doctor weighted more than 225 pounds, and only a high, strong, rangy horse could handle the job of pulling cutter and driver of that weight through the heavy snows. But the doctor had a manure box which was higher than the usual also, for it had a close-fitting glass top, and the strength of its contents on a warm day sometimes upset the sparrows in the street.

Externally, the age was many other things than those small familiar items in the woollen town on the Mississippi: - it was the first C.P.R. transcontinental train leaving Place Viger station in Montreal at 8:00 p.m., passing through Almonte at midnight, and arriving splendidly in Winnipeg for the Dominion Day celebration on July 1st; - it was Laurier’s defeat on the reciprocity issue in 1911; - it was the discovery of radium and X-rays by Madame Curie and Professor Roentgen; - it was the shock wave of telegrams in 1914-1918: "It is with deep, regret that we must inform you that your son, Private .... has been killed in action on the western Front"; - it was the discovery of insulin by Toronto doctors Best and Banting; - it was, in the words of Professor A. R. M. Lower of Queen’s University. "that delicious hesitation between the ox-cart and the automobile."

But, regardless of advances in medical science and technology, to the doctors in the community of Almonte and its surrounding district, the person was the most important thong alive. Shortly, after his arrival, Dr. Hanly was working with Dr. Lynch, Dr. Kelly and Dr. Metcalfe to establish a hospital where they could provide the best of what nursing science and medical skill could bring to their people in need. Their efforts culminated in the founding of the Cottage Hospital in 1903, and the Rosamond Memorial Hospital, which was officially opened by the Governor-General, Earl Grey, on New Year’s Day, 1908.

The doctor’s day was predictable only in the announced hours for office calls. I have one of Dr. Hanly’s notes on his letterhead which gives the office hours as 8-10 a.m., 1-3 p.m., and 7-9 p.m. In between, of course, were house calls, hospital rounds, study and travel time. It made for a fulsome day.

After his death many of Doctor Hanly’s medical books came into my father’s medical library. In one of these Doctor Hanly had made a set of notes under the heading "Hygiene of pregnancy". He listed a number of items from (a) to (j) , including Diet, Exercise, Rest, and Clothing, etc. One item, however, is listed with unusual emphasis: it’s (f) "Mental Condition".

In return for his concern, the community rewarded the doctor with its co-operation, both for his own needs and for those of his patients. Dr. Hanly would never hesitate to phone a druggist at any hour f the night if a prescription had to be made up in a hurry. And in the case of calls to the country in bad winter weather (which usually meant at night), he would simply tell the telephone operator where he had to go. She would then wake up all the farmers along the route, and they would get out with heavy teams and sleighs to break a trail on the unplowed roads so that the doctor’s horse and cutter could get through.

When we think of representative Canadian sights and sounds, we often think of the long, lonesome note of the C.P.R. train whistle piercing the frost-filled prairie night, and the clouds of steam coughed out on the night air from the bowels of the locomotive. But equally Canadian was the sight of the doctor in his cutter, with snorts of breath from his horse’s nostrils polishing the frost-etched moonbeams, and the cutter bells jingling to the rhythmic clop-clop of the horse’s hooves.

Doctor Hanly had a deep well of learning which he kept constantly primed with an insatiable curiosity. His office held an unusual glass case filled with many of his father’s medical instruments, which were somewhat crude even for the sophisticated 1920’s. But it also had a microscope, various reagents, alcohol burners, in fact, much the appearance of a small pathological laboratory.

It was quite natural than that he should be asked to provide some direction to the community’s cultural endeavours also. It fitted his temperament admirably, and he devoted many years to the Library Board, the Board of Education, and the Lanark County Educational Association. I have a penny post card dated Dec. 5, 1910 addressed to "Dr. Hanly, Town" which announced a meeting of the Board of Education to be held in the Council Chambers on Tuesday evening, Dec. 6 at 8:00 p.m. "for the transaction of general business." The notice concludes with a cautionary injunction: "Any trustee who absents himself from the meetings of the Board for three consecutive months, without being authorized by resolution entered upon its minutes, shall, ipso facto, vacate his seat and the remaining trustees shall declare his seat vacant and forthwith order a new election."

James McLeod, Secretary.

All the civic virtues, and the pride and honour which attend them, are summed up in that injunction.

It’s the small things, and in the simple ways that a community finds its own heroes and awards them its own marks of excellence. The ancient Greeks gave hero-status to those who showed exceptional bravery in protecting the city. But, in the development days of our Ontario communities, the protection of the physical health and well-being of the citizens was a matter of heroic proportions. One of the ways the community recognizes this importance is in the naming of children after its heroes.

Howard Sadler’s eldest son was such a one - well, almost. Two days after he was born, Doctor Hanly, making his rounds, enquired if a name had been chosen for the record of birth.

"Yes, Bruce", was the answer.

"Well, I am pleased" said the doctor, thinking the baby was to be named after his own son, Bruce Hanly.

Howard and Mrs. Sadler didn’t have the nerve to explain that the night before the baby’s arrival, Mrs. Sadler had been reading a story in a penny dreadful in which the major character was a full-blown top-gallant knave named Bruce, and that that was the source of the chosen name.

After the "flu epidemic of 1919", Dr. Hanly’s health began to suffer. It was simply overwork, and the heart muscles could no longer stand the strain. He went, in due course, to consult the heart specialists in Toronto who advised him that total rest for six months was the only therapy.

It was during this time of anxiety that he used to walk down to the end of Colborne Street in the summer evenings, taking all the children of the neighbourhood as escorts, and they would sit on the stone wall there, looking out on Spring Bush, and the sunset over Gemmill’s Bay. It was a place where the ancient Greek philosopher’s elements, fire, air, earth and water, seemed to fuse together.

One simple rule prevailed: absolute silence for fifteen or twenty minutes, for it was that solemn time of day which in English is called "the gloaming", and in French, "le crepuscule".

It was the moment of juncture between earth, sun and sky, when the softness of the air disturbed only by the silent swish of crows making wing to the distant wood, the swollen fruited hour when the swarming sun homes in to its hive in the horizon, and the very trees moan in the stillness.

It was the time of the afterglow when the sun stops momentarily in its headlong rush, turns back before crossing the threshold into night, and, smiling, flings its colours out on the summer sky, sending out golden tendrils to tie up some herring-bone scarps of summer cloud. It was September’s crepuscular madness, and the doctor and the children would sit on the wall, drinking it in, soaking in the splendid silence.

Torn between concern for himself and concern for others, the doctor’s dilemma, Jno. F. Hanly’s answer came easily to him. Others came first.

Then it happened, even as he knew it would. It was Monday the last day in February, 1927. He had stopped at M. R. MacFarlane’s drug store (now Wilf Snedden’s) about 11:00 a.m. He spoke to a number of people between there and the Post Office (Don Campbell was one of them), and then he drove home with the horse and cutter. He stepped out of the cutter at the door, collapsed and died on the spot.

The word ran like grassfire along the pathways of Almonte.

"Doctor Hanly’s dead."

"What’s that?"

"Doctor Hanly’s dead."

"Oh no, I was talking to him only an hour ago."

When a general dies, an army mourns. The regimental band, dressed in black, with muffled drums and muted clarinets, plays the Dead march from Saul, while comrades in slow march, with arms reversed, accompany the flag-draped coffin of their hero strapped to an artillery caisson. The general’s horse, rider less, fully caparisoned, follows. At the sombre tomb, the firing party’s rifle volley barks out a clamour to admit the soldier-hero.

Almonte too mourned its loss. Its grief was open and deep. The funeral was held on Wednesday of that week. Schools were closed. The Mayor and Council, members of the Board of education, the Library Board, the Lanark County Educational Association, the medical fraternity of Almonte and Carleton Place, the teaching staffs of the schools, all joined as the cortege wound its way from the house on Bridge Street to Bethany United Church for the service conducted by Rev. J. R. MacCrimmon. Pallbearers were T. J. Reid, Henry Brown, D. J. Dick, M. R. McFarlane, W. West and Adam Craig.

Through the town the solemn procession went, down Mill Street, past Gemmill’s Bay Hill, and on to the pine-shrouded resting place in the Auld Kirk Cemetery. As the cortege passed all the blinds on places of business were drawn as a mark of respect. Men stood mute in their grief, silent as statues. Women wept openly. Thirty-five years he had spent among them, a comfort to the afflicted, a restorer of injured health to many, and to all a physician, friend and counsellor.

And so Jno. F. Hanly, M. D. passed over also, and came to the other side, where he found himself in the Enchanted Isles of the Blest, and where he found many old friends dwelling. And they greeted him warmly, welcoming him to their company, because they said, his arrival had been so unexpected.

John Dunn - November, 1971