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Medicine – Dr. Shadd

Dr. Shadd’s prescription pad from the Central Drug Store. WDM photo. Click on image to enlarge.

Dr. Shadd earned his medical degree from the University of Toronto in 1898, and then chose to return to the Northwest Territories to practice medicine. He originally lived with the Lowries, who had hosted him in his teaching days, but soon built his own home in their yard.

It wasn’t long before Dr. Shadd earned a reputation as an excellent doctor in the area around Kinistino. Not only was he skilled at medicine, but he was personable and funny, with a memorable laugh. Many of his patients noted that his laughter and humour seemed to have a positive effect on them, even before he started treating them.

He was also a reliable doctor, braving any type of weather to reach patients in need. He worked on call as far away as Tisdale, 70 km from Kinistino, until 1905 when Tisdale got its own doctor. Though he was a part of many social, professional and religious organizations, his medical obligations were always prioritized.

Box of medicinal sulphur from the Central Drug Store, owned by Dr. Shadd. On display at the Melfort and District Museum. WDM photo. Click to enlarge.

In the spring of 1904, Dr. Shadd made the move from Kinistino to Melfort. He opened a medical practice, but shortly after, in August, it appears he traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, to further his study of medicine. Which hospital he studied at is unclear, as records from two of Edinburgh’s hospitals at the time: Leith Hospital and the Edinburgh Royal Maternity Hospital, no longer exist. He returned to Melfort in April 1905. Upon his return he used the designation “C.M.” behind his name, meaning Chirurgiae Magister, indicating he was a Master of Surgery. This suggests he had earned these credentials while abroad.

After his return from Scotland, Dr. Shadd purchased land in Melfort and built a drug store, which was managed by Sid Moore. Though he kept busy with his medical practice, he still found time to campaign for the creation of a hospital for the Melfort area. By 1906, plans were in place to establish the Lady Minto Hospital (named for Lady Caroline Minto, wife of the then-Governor General of Canada). Within the year, $1,200 had been raised from community members and a donation of $2,000 was secured from a charity established by Lady Minto, and the hospital was quickly built. In 1907, a nurse’s training program was established. The hospital is still in operation today, now known as Melfort Union Hospital.

The building that housed Dr. Shadd’s practice and drug store as pictured in 2021, Melfort. WDM photo. Click to enlarge.

Dr Shadd sat on the original board of directors of the Lady Minto Hospital but resigned in June 1907 due to disagreements over hospital management and an apparent desire to focus more on patients directly rather than administration.

A desire to help his patients kept Dr. Shadd on top of the latest technology. The establishment of a telephone system in Melfort was proposed by Dr. Shadd at a town council meeting in October 1907. A telephone would have allowed patients to contact Dr. Shadd more quickly in emergencies. Dr. Shadd was also an early adopter of the automobile. His first car was a 1906 REO. This vehicle allowed him to get to patients more easily in the summer months. He was known in Melfort for speeding through town to get to his patients. It is said he sometimes disregarded roads as well, instead driving across fields to get to his patients more quickly.

Dr. Shadd also served as one of the first official coroners in Saskatchewan, using his medical expertise to investigate cause of death in suspicious circumstances.

He practiced medicine until his untimely death in 1915.

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Melfort and District Museum,
Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum and
Western Development Museum.
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