Monday, June 20, 2011

HEROES OF THE NORTHLAND; part 2 of 4; by Carroll P. Streeter; 1929

Many another story like this might be found in the experiences of the frontier people of Saskatchewan, but little by little civilization is pushing medical service nearer to the distant outposts. The Saskatchewan government has built a modern little hospital up in the wilderness at Ile La Crosse, 300 miles still farther north, to serve some two thousand prospectors, hunters, traders, fishers and Indians, who are scattered through a wide area of scrub timber and lake country. It is the northernmost hospital in this great province of Saskatchewan. Dr. F. G. Amyot, has had his adventures, too. One night not so long ago a messenger hurried to Ile La Crosse by canoe to report that the plane of Flying Officer A. F. MacDonald, of the government air service, had crashed near Dillon Village, seventy-five miles away. The pilot was reported near death. Twenty minutes later Dr. Amyot was in a canoe heading out into one of the north's most treacherous large lakes in absolute darkness. A high wind was whipping the water until those who saw him start were certain he could never get across. But Dr. Amyot had been one of the best canoeman in Canada during his college days.

His companion baled continually throughout the night, and when morning came the water was still so rough that the spray of the canoe hid the shore for minutes at a time, but they landed safely.

Crossing another large lake the doctor finally arrived at the scene of the accident. He found the aviator with broken ribs, a broken ankle, deep cuts, many missing teeth and severe burns from the fire of the wrecked plane. Although Dr. Amyot had been without sleep for twenty-eight hours he immediately set about making, temporary splints,  dressing wounds, and feeding his patient. Four days later the doctor returned to his little hospital, frost bitten and sick himself.

These adventures are only two of many which doctors of this wild northland could relate. Others, just as exciting and often more tragic, could be told by the wives of the pioneers who are pushing across these new frontiers. To farm folks in the United States such dangers may sound like fiction, but they are grim fact to the stout hearts who are out there trying to subdue the wilderness.