Home Remedies written by Avonna Stevenson
Visiting, or being visited by, the doctor was a much less frequent event on P.E.I. in the 1800’s and early 1900’s than it is now. It was important for every wife and mother worth her salt, to know how to deal with ailment and injuries at home, and remedies and treatments were passed down through the generations. Patent medicines were also heavily relied on, either alone or combined with ingredients from the pantry. The onion occupied an important place in the making of home remedies. Made into a poultice and placed on the chest, it was an effective treatment for pneumonia. An onion sliced, covered with sugar, and placed “on the back of the stove”, formed a syrup which was used as a cough medicine for the “little ones”.
Onions were also a very effective treatment for an ear ache. My mother recalls an evening, around the late 1930’s, when she cried for hours with a sore ear. She lived on the Mount Edward Road at the time. George Brown, the head gardener at the Experimental Farm, and a friend of the family, had stopped in for a visit. Feeling sorry for the little girl, he offered to help. He pared an onion until it would fit inside the opening of the ear, heated it in some butter until it was quite warm, and placed it in her ear. She…
…mixing with water and heating. The porridge-like mixture was put on hot and changed when it cooled and used for boils, as well as infected cuts.
Several people have recalled hearing that cobwebs were used to aid clotting in cases of severe bleeding, but I have been unable to find anyone who had actually tried this remedy.
Although we smile at some of these unusual treatments now, we might have been very thankful for them had we lived in the early days of the century.