Surgical Tools

HBC post managers working in remote locations were provided with a medical chest that included an assortment of surgical implements.

Written by Amelia Fay

Posted November 8, 2018

This assortment of surgical implements was part of a medical chest that was provided to HBC post managers working in remote locations where access to medical aid was not directly available. Some post managers may have had a little medical or first-aid training, and it was recognized that their role was not to replace a doctor; nonetheless, they could be called upon to provide medical services.

Reviewing a copy of the Hudson’s Bay Company Post Manager’s Medical Guide from 1953 reveals that these items and an assortment of medicines were part of a standard medicine chest — and that post managers were responsible for maintaining and replacing the items. The guide provides basic information for treating common ailments, although the tools seen here suggest that minor surgeries, such as tooth extraction, were not outside the realm of potential duties.

This particular set was used during the 1970s in Naujaat (formerly called Repulse Bay) in what is now Nunavut, but the tools themselves date to the 1930s.

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Amelia Fay is the curator of the HBC Collection at the Manitoba Museum.

This article originally appeared in the December 2018-January 2019 issue of Canada’s History.

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