This tape is part of the Salt Spring Island Historical society Collection.
Dr. Rush reminisces about his first practice in Ganges, 1930 to 1942.
|Accession Number||Interviewer||Tony Farr, introduced by Ivan Mouat|
Bob Rush 17.05.2023
Ivan Mouat, Chair of the Lady Minto Hospital Board of Management:
Some of you have come from some distance, so I think we’re very pleased that Dr. Rush is with us this afternoon. He was here for some considerable years from the 30s into the 40s. And he’s still going strong. I hear tales of bicycle riding and tennis courts. And so I’m very glad you took the time away from the tennis court to visit us today, doctor. I’d also like to thank the hospital auxiliary, those wonderful ladies. The hospital auxiliary always serves us when we look after things for the Board of Management when they need it. And also I understand they’ve got the Anglican women helping them and with the tea this afternoon. So thank you very much.
Would you also make sure you register. Put your name down. These instructions by the way, this little pink piece of paper, was given to me by the chairman of our hospital Historical Society. Gordon is a member of the board. And he’s looking after it. By the way, Gordon, thank you. And (Win?) too, for the (arrangements?). I’m glad that she’s very involved in getting things set up for the day. So thank you very much. Please let us also have any information. There’s sheets of paper here. The only thing I’d ask is for my wife to refrain from mentioning anything that used to go on in the nurses home, please. (Laughter)
A member of the audience:
And were you involved?
Ivan Mouat 1:21:
We have a list of doctors. And I don’t think we have the nurses or the matrons there. Oh, they are there. Thank you very much. I didn’t find them. And board members. We hope in the hospital to have a sort of a memory lane or an area where we have the pictures of two of the early members of the board. And I should also … I’m sorry I didn’t mention earlier… we see Dr. Beech, who was one of the main founders of this hospital, to welcome his grandson Cyril, and his granddaughter Phyllis Newman. We’re really pleased to see you here today. And as you are aware we are putting the doctors pictures up in the (hall?), along with Mr. Walters and others members in the hospital. It’s nice of you to come. Thank you for coming. I’ve nothing else to say. We’re going to have tea later on. Would you please make sure you register and if you have any information about the what happened when you were here. I don’t remember what happened when I was here because I think myself, and you Daisy, and Bunny, and quite a few others. Bob Rush and his brother and sisters were born here. Who else was born here? Jessie?
Unknown Speaker 2:34:
Yes thanks for coming and have a good afternoon.
Tony Farr 2:43:
You came to the island in 1930. Was that your first job? Or did you come from somewhere else?
Yes, it was my first job really. Although I did go up to Bella Bella to do a locum tenens for Dr. Darby. And to sort of maintain the hospital at Bella Bella while Dr. Darby followed the Indians down to Rivers Inlet to fish. So that was how I was there.
Did you follow them down to Rivers Inlet?
No. I maintained the hospital there. While I was there my dad was a doctor living in retired living in West Vancouver. He saw an ad in the paper for a practice for sale. I had just graduated in 1929. And he thought, well that sounds rather nice over at Ganges. So he came over and looked at it, and thought it looked pretty good. And so when I came down he told me about it. And so while I was in Bella Bella, I asked Mr. Gibson… he was a Methodist, a missionary… I said where’s Ganges? Well, he said, that’s the paradise of the Pacific. So that sounded pretty good to me. So I came over and looked at it. Dr. Sutherland was the doctor. She was a rather senior lady doctor. She was wanting to sell her practice. I was just out of school. I had no money. But dad put up the large sum of $4,000 and bought the place for me. But before I came over, I had bought myself a 28 Chevy two door sedan. So I felt pretty good about that.
So you were driving around the island about the same time as Mr. Bullock was driving around ?
I certainly was . Mr. Bullock. Well I think I made my name with Mr. Bullock. He was a squire of the island you know. And he had a great big (polyp?) on his nose, about three quarters of an inch long. And after I had met him, and had been introduced to him, I said Mr. Bullock you’ve got to have that thing off. Okay he said. So I got out my cauterer, and off it came. Well that was the talk of the Island for about two weeks… the doctor had taken the big (polyp ?) off Mr Bullock’s nose.
Tony Farr 5:54:
What was the life like here at the hospital at that time?
Dr. Rush: Well, it was very ill equipped, really. It was non- surgical. And nothing surgical could be handled in it, really. And the island at that time was very healthy. Of course there were very few people on the island, relatively speaking. At that time. I think I only had about four or five surgery cases a year. So I would take them down to Victoria. And manage them, and work with a surgeon, while I assisted at the surgery. And didn’t come back until the next day. Funnily enough, my dad died. It was 1935. And he just bought himself a little Austin Seven.
We used to have one of those
But you know the passenger bucket seat is on two pins. And you pull these two pins up. Take the seat out. What I used to do is put an apple box down there and pad it up a little bit, and it could act as an ambulance, really. And the patient could lie full-out, very comfortably. So that that’s how I used to handle my major surgery.
How did you manage for the accidents that used to happen on the island with log axes and (fires?) and things.
Well, there were very few accidents, really. And the only one bad accident, and really fatal, was Guy Brown. He was right in front of our home, as it happened. And a logging truck came along. And he was going to step up on the step to step up. And he slipped and fell. It wouldn’t have been too bad if the truck had run right over him. But the driver slammed on the brakes. and it just slit his leg under the back wheels. And took all the flesh off. And you could see the bare tibia. Well, we brought him back. We phoned Bertie Roberts. At that time he was driving the island truck. And he came up and took him back to the hospital. (It?) was hanging down by a little bit of flesh. I cut it off and wrapped him up. And fortunately it was just almost ferry time. But he died on the way. That’s one of the bad accidents. It was rather gruesome. Mr. Borradaile, who lived just below us, he came up with a bucket of water and washed the blood off the road. That was George Borradaile.
Yes, I know his son Jack, in Victoria.
Dr. Rush 9:31:
Yeah, and I remember my first tonsillectomy was Johnny Crofton. And it took a long time, because I had to give the anaesthetic and go back to my work, and then I had to give him (unintellible) anaesthetic. So it took about an hour and a half, for something that should take about half an hour, you know. However, my first patient was Colin King. He and brother Ron ran the dairy.
Was that where the Embe bakery now is?
No, that’s on the main road to Fulford.
Oh, I know, down the by the Fulford Valley.
No, that was Price, Harold Price. There were two big sources of milk. Two big sources, the King brothers and the Price brothers. The Price brothers were down on Beddis Road.
Harold Price was one of my first patients. He had something in his eye. Funnily enough, just as I got to Ganges this morning, my son Bob said he just got a call from Mrs. Toynbee, senior, who had just received a phone call from Mrs. (Ethel?) Campbell, who at that time was a Menzies from Galiano. Or was it from the mainland. Anyway, to give me her best regards, and remind me that that she was my first patient in the hospital.
Well, what else. Were there any amusing incidents that happened while you were here in those 12 years?
Dr. Rush: 12:23:
Amusing? Amusing? Oh, to get back to Mr. Bullock, I presume you’ve heard all about him.
Oh, yes. I read about him.
Well, as is his doctor, he said now in my will, there’s an envelope there. There’s $5 in it.And he was desperately afraid of being buried alive. Now I want you to cut my throat to make sure I’m dead. So I never got the $5 because I moved off the island before he died. Oh yeah. I think one of the first maternity cases was Mrs. Len Cropper. And she had twins. She was in a single bed. No anaesthetic. And believe it or not both babies were breech presentations.
So I had to go ahead and turn them, deliver them, give them my own (anaesthetic?), or whatever. So it was quite a job. And then I realized that there was no proper maternity table. So I thought oh, let’s make one. So I knew that John Graham, who lived down in Fulford, was an excellent carpenter, and I designed a split delivery table. You know, that came together and then when the time came for delivery, you just pull the lower part away, and the legs are just (up in?) stirrups. So I guess that was one of my contributions to the hospital.
There’s one I learned… I don’t know if you’d call it a mistake or not… but once I had a (collage?) fracture. I thought oh my golly, I could put him under, you know, and reduce the fracture, and put a cast on, and make a big deal out of it. So I thought, by golly, I’ll try a local anaesthetic. So I injected him, you know, and (splinted?) it, and it turned out just fine. And then I sent him a bill for $25. I waited for a few months or so. I (contacted?) him, and asked how about paying my bill? I’m not mentioning any names. Oh, he said, you did nothing. You just put the little needle in there, and that’s all you did. I could have made a big deal out of it if I had wanted to. But that’s human nature for you.
Did he ever pay it?
I can’t remember. I can’t remember.
Unknown Speaker 15:48:
I just made a few notes, just as I was coming over today, in case I had to say something. I’ve got a few down here. I don’t know whether I should say I did make the odd mistake. Oh yea, before I say that, another incident was that of Gilbert Mouat. I was called down to see him. And he was quite ill, with fever. He had an acute ear infection. And he had a great big double bed. So I had to crawl across to use my (auroscope?), and which I knew had to be incized. Fortunately, I had the instrument so I made a (paracentesis?) to relieve the pressure, and cured the patient. But funnily enough, that’s the only case I had to deal with like that, because shortly after that, I guess antibiotics came into effect.
What does that do?
Antibiotics? They’re antibiotic.
And another case, just one case, it was an elderly lady, you know. And this was my first practice. This lady, she was well-known on the island, with good connections and so on. She had pains in her leg. I (massaged?) it, and so on. Then she wasn’t getting any better. So she went down to Victoria. And until the exam was done, and they found she had a very big, large, ovarian tumour which had developed into cancer, and which was pressing on her sciatic nerve, and she ultimately died. But that was the cause of her pain. But again, ironically, I’ve never had one in all my 50 years of practice that’s (changed?) like that at the end. But of course it wouldn’t be the first case here that I have made a mistake on. But I guess all doctors make the odd mistake, Well, there was another confinement I was to attend. And there was a very officious lady who was a friend of the patient. And she decided that she should be delivered at home. But she was again a lady, and (unintelligible) should have been in hospital. Well, it was a very long confinement, but the baby was nice, and well-formed, but didn’t breathe. But I just could not get the baby to breathe. I lost the baby. That was a mistake on my part. I should have (unintelligible) the young fellow, and the friend of the patient was older, and quite officious, and had been an (old?) nurse and so on.
What could you have done?
In hospital we would have had oxygen, and more assistance. But that’s the way it goes.
Unknown Speaker 19:48:
Where did you graduate?
Dr. Rush 19:50:
At the University of Alberta, in 1929.
Another thing just came to mind. Shortly after I came here, I came careening down, oh I shouldn’t say careening down the hill fast, maybe, and two days later Mr. Tweedhope, he was he was a constable here. He came up to me and said, Dr. Rush, there’ve been some complaints about you coming down the hill too fast. So I said, have I come to a sleepy hollow? But that’s the way it goes.
Oh yeah, getting back to maternity cases, I had to go to Victoria for some reason or other. And I knew Mrs. Crawford was due, not fairly soon, so I thought I’d drop in, and check to make sure it would be safe for me to leave. Which I did, and there’s absolutely no sign nor symptoms of a term delivery at all. But wouldn’t you know, when I got back that evening she had delivered a baby, but fortunately Miss Beddis, an old nurse, had delivered, and everything was satisfactory and they were quite glad that that was it. Well, in contrast, another time when I had to go to Victoria, Nita Kaye was due, and she had about six children and she was pretty fast delivery. So I thought (unintelligible) . So I went to Victoria. And got back. And she was still sitting pretty quiet but she didn’t deliver for about 10 days later and when I examined her she was practically fully dilated and all ready to go.
Well I could go on for a long time. But the island was then more or less divided between the Anglicans and the United church. Mr. Bullock was an Anglican. He is said to have remarked that Dr. Rush is nice but it’s too bad he isn’t an Anglican. But I actually went to the United church. And so did Dr. Lawson at that time. We were both members of the United church.
Is that enough?
Tony Farr 23.38:
Is there anything else you feel should be (mentioned?), that would be of interest?
Dr. Rush 23:58:
And oh yes, I took a pool table as payment for a bill. I had no place to put the darn thing. So I had I had to build a little building, beside our house, just to put it in. But I knew nothing about carpentry, except in elementary. So I laid out 2 x 4’s on the ground, at right angles to each other. I had borrowed a tape measure. The building was to be 10 x 20 feet. Well, I found out later that the tape measure was a foot short. But it worked out all right.
Bob Rush 25:26:
In that same building, one of the Beddis’s repaired a canoe. Remember that?
Dr. Rush 25:33:
Oh, another thing. Yeah, I went into Ganges one day, and saw a red canoe, with a big hole in the bottom that had been burned in it. So I asked Mr. Tweedhope, he was the constable, if I could have that canoe. Sure, he said, take the darn thing. Which I did. So I took it up to the house. And then I called Charlie Beddis, who was a real good carpenter, and asked if he could come up and fix this canoe for me. Which he did. And we covered it with canvas and painted it like brand new.
We still have it. We haven’t used it for many years, but I remember Heinecky borrowed it before he was married.
Dr. Rush 26:35:
Well I guess there’s not much more to say, really, except I think we were one of the first to have a Bendix washer and dryer installed. And one of the first to have an oil burner put into our kitchen stove. We had a fireplace in our front room. And we had a piano at one end of the room. And oh, there was an old furnace in the building, but it was never used. But there were no hot water radiators. So I decided it might be a good idea to put some pipes in the fireplace, on the bottom, and also up at right angles up the back, so you get the heat from both sides. And also I decided to put a radiator behind the piano at the far end of room. And everyone said that it wouldn’t work, because the heat wouldn’t go downward, it always goes up. But I said to heck with it, we’ve nothing to loose anyway. Let’s try it. It worked.
I guess that’s all I can say.
Tony Farr 28:10:
Thank you very much.