Doctors & Midwives
The earliest record of any form of medical services in Cornwall comes from a history paper written by ‘Kate Angus’, a.k.a. Mrs. Bert Warren. Her writings are somewhat hard to interpret at times, but it seems as though a descendant or relative of Post-mistress Hannah Walsh was an unofficial mid-wife in Cornwall. The explanation is as follows, “Next comes the Welsh place house, and Hannah kept the Post Office and a little store. There were two daughters and two sons, Mary Ann married Joe Moreside, and Hannah Pat Tracey, Covehead, now all dead. One granddaughter, Sarah Ellen, Mrs. Berrigan still living. Must be over ninety. A few years ago I sent her a tin type of her Grandfather and mother Mrs. Welsh was an Angel of Mercy in those days, she helped a good number of babies into this world. The writer one of them, and was always ready on call. There is not too many like her now but of course Doctors are easier to call.”1 Lifelong Cornwall resident Alice Wilson noted that her grandmother Alice Howard, was a mid-wife and helped deliver a good number of babies as well.
After speaking with many lifelong residents of Cornwall it has been determined that there was no official doctor in the community of Cornwall. Many residents remember Dr. Alexander John Murchison, who was born in North River in 1864. He set up his practice in Clyde River. Son of Captain Malcolm Murchison, Dr. A.J. Murchison began his practice in 1893 after completing his education at several prestigious schools.2 Dr. Murchison was a beloved member of the community who served Clyde River as well as surrounding areas. Dr. Owen Curtis replaced Dr. Murchison and operated out of Bonshaw, Dr. Angus MacLeod in turn replaced Dr. Curtis. Several members of the community remember Dr. MacLeod and his Oldsmobile. It was said that he made many house calls and was not one to obey the speed limit.
Several members of the community made the trip to Charlottetown for a doctor. Many Cornwall residents were patients of Dr. Peirce. Before the mid 1900’s it was not uncommon for doctors to make house calls, although some residents made the trip to the hospital in Charlottetown to visit Dr. Peirce. It was not until the 1970’s that Cornwall had its first doctor. Dr. David Stewart set up practice in Cornwall with only six patients, which grew to over 3,600 after thirty years.3 Dr. Stewart still runs his practice in Cornwall.
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