Uppity Women

1916

DR. EVA SUTHERLAND
(1873-1964)
Dr. Eva Maud Sutherland was born in 1873 in Northumberland, England, the second of three daughters of William Snowball and Emma Davidson Snowball. She received her medical education at the Medical College for Women in Edinburgh. She was a brilliant student, having received the medals for Physics in 1898, Medical Jurisprudence in 1901, and Ophthalmology in 1902.

A private detective located her husband in Bella Coola, British Columbia, Canada. Eva went to Bella Coola and nursed the ailing Frances until he died in November 1915, aged thirty-seven years

After graduation she and her first husband, T. Frances Cavanaugh, set up a joint practice in Liverpool. Shortly thereafter, he disappeared. Later, Eva, distraught and lonely, was told she had a brain tumour, and she decided to find her husband before she died. A private detective located her husband in Bella Coola, British Columbia, Canada. (In a recent book, Healing in the Wilderness: A History of the United Church Mission Hospitals by Bob Burrows, T. Francis Cavanaugh is mentioned as the second resident physician at Bella Coola.) Eva went to Bella Coola and nursed the ailing Frances until he died in November 1913, aged thity-seven years. She stayed on in Bella Coola and was appointed physician in charge of the town hospital, registering with the College of Physicians and Surgeons in May 1916. She obviously was well enough to practise.
Dr. Sutherland met her second husband, Billie Sutherland, an Englishman, in Bella Coola. He enlisted in the navy in 1917 and was sent on the Atlantic Patrol, but was discharged two months later with tuberculosis.
It was about this time that Bella Coola was almost wiped out by a flood.


The Gulf Islands were urgently searching for a doctor for the Lady Minto Gulf Islands Hospital which had opened in 1914. A stipend of about $500 a year went with the position. The cottage hospital had been without a full-time physician since the fall of 1914, as both the doctor, Allan Beech, and the Matron (the only nurse), Miss Calhoun had gone on Active Service. Until Dr. Sutherland opened her practice in early 1918, the Gulf Islands had been serviced by Dr. Lionel Beech, the retired father of Dr. Allan Beech, and Dr. Fraser who came to Ganges a day or two a week from his home on Mayne Island. When Dr. Fraser was on Saltspring Island, he stayed at the boarding house of Mrs. Jane Mouat located near Ganges dock. He was known to always wear a kilt and dance the Highland Fling for guests.
When Dr. Sutherland arrived, she was expected to make routine trips to the Outer Islands. Her husband, Billie Sutherland, purchased a launch, reputed to be the largest in these waters, and he was able to transport her as needed.
Dr. Sutherland instituted a plan for training nurses at the Lady Minto Gulf Islands Hospital. Her plan was not considered a success by the hospital board, and was not repeated. A second physician arrived on Saltspring in the spring of 1923. The relationship between the two doctors was notably strained. Often the hospital was desperately short of funds, almost to the point of closure. During Dr. Sutherland's tenure of twelve years, the hospital had eleven matrons, few of whom met her standards.


Dr. Sutherland resigned as Health Officer in 1925, although she continued her private practice. Her increasing deafness and her husband's ill-health (Billie died in 1926) must have been difficult for her. Dr. Sutherland sold her practice, her house, and her 1928 Chevrolet to Dr. Raymond Rush for $4,000 in 1930. She went on an extended trip to England, and returned to Ganges where she rented a cottage. In 1932, she moved to Raeburn House on Rockland Avenue in Victoria. She died in 1964, aged ninety-one.

(Information regarding Dr. Sutherland came from Dr. Stuart Kenning, Chair of Victoria Medical Society. The story of Dr. Sutherland was written by Mrs. Susan Mouat for the Victoria Medical Society. Mrs. Mouat of Saltspring Island has given permission to use her information regarding Dr. Eva Sutherland.)


 

 

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