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150 Years of History in the Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the May 17, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Time to make a house call

150 Years of History in the Hills
With a patient and his mother in Dr. Geggie's consulting room in 'The Maples', the Geggie residence on Riverside Drive, 1953 (now known as Les Trois Erables).

This book has been a-writing for more than fifty years. It has been my companion throughout my years of medical practice: while I drove horses under the stars on cold winter nights; on drowsy hot summer afternoons; threading a way along soft, almost bottomless spring roads; mired up to the axles - waiting for the slow arrival of the team of horses to pull me out; or bumping over iron-hard ruts of frozen November roads, hoping the ever-to-be-suspected crown gear would hold out 'til my journey's end. At all hours, on the roads or at bedsides, dozing curled up on the kitchen floor with my sleigh rugs, sitting up in the middle of the night, with head resting on the steering wheel, or half waking, half sleeping, lying on the soft grassy roadside; over all the years this book has been writing itself... There is a greater reason for writing a book on rural medical practice. There have been so many changes over the past fifty years; economic and social, professional and scientific... What went into the making of a doctor before the turn of the 20th century, or in its first decade, or its fourth or fifth decades? These things deserve to be recorded.

150 Years of History in the Hills
Dr. Geggie, aged 72, with some of his 'tools of the trade' and books, 1959. Photo courtesy Bert Beaver.

This is the first paragraph of the preface to 'The Extra Mile: The Journals of H.J.G. Geggie, M.D.', subtitled 'Medicine in Rural Quebec 1885-1965'. The book gives us a glimpse into bygone times and the difficult work and life of Dr. Harold Geggie (1886-1966), a doctor practicing medicine in the early days of the Gatineau Valley. Edited by Norma and Stuart Geggie and first published in 1987 (with a second edition in 2007), 'The Extra Mile' continues to be a popular seller available from the GVHS and some local retailers.

All photographs for this article are courtesy of Norma Geggie.


 
150 Years of History in the Hills
On a house call with a young family in Masham in 1954. The outside light would be better for oral examination. Photo courtesy Bert Beaver.
150 Years of History in the Hills
Dr. Harold Geggie with his snowmobile, circa late 1930. It was a Ford Roadster converted for snow travel in the winter, with skis on the front, and six wheels with heavy chains on the back.

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