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Pioneer doctor Edward Connor began career in Pincher Creek

Pioneer doctor Edward Connor began career in Pincher Creek
Edward Lawrence Connor showed early interest in pursuing a medical career, and following his public schooling he studied medicine in the United States. This was followed by postgraduate work in Vienna, then a significant cultural centre in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire that dominated much of the European map prior to the First World War.
Edward Lawrence Connor showed early interest in pursuing a medical career, and following his public schooling he studied medicine in the United States. This was followed by postgraduate work in Vienna, then a significant cultural centre in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire that dominated much of the European map prior to the First World War.

Pioneer doctor Edward Connor began career in Pincher Creek

By Farley Wuth
By Farley Wuth
Curator | Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
Shootin’ the Breeze Curator | Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
June 9, 2024
June 9, 2024

The history of the Pincher Creek area was blessed with a number of pioneer medical doctors who worked hard to improve the general health of our frontiersmen. Often working without good facilities, these individuals dedicated themselves to the betterment of the settlements they served.

One such individual was Dr. Edward Connor, who practised medicine here for four years, mostly at the old Memorial Hospital, located north of the creek.

Edward Lawrence Connor was born in January 1881 in Windsor, Ont., and was raised in a family of five children. He had one brother and three sisters.

He showed early interest in pursuing a medical career, and following his public schooling he studied medicine in the United States. This was followed by postgraduate work in Vienna, then a significant cultural centre in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire that dominated much of the European map prior to the First World War.

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

Further studies were taken at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where the frontiers of medical science were constantly being pushed back.

Early years in Pincher Creek

Dr. Edward Connor launched his first medical practice here in Pincher Creek, arriving in the autumn of 1911. He set up his office in a small frame building on the south side of Main Street, just east of the old Hudson’s Bay Co. store and west of St. John’s Anglican Church.

This structure, noted for its bright windows facing out to the street, served him well for conveniently receiving patients in the centre of town.

Connor also practised medicine in the two-storey Memorial Hospital, architecturally noted for its eye-catching veranda. Located in the north part of Pincher Creek on what was to become John Avenue, the community’s premiere hospital facility was named in honour of the three local casualties of the South African War of 1899 to 1902.

 

Also read | Frontier chronicles of the Fugina family

 

Robert Kerr, Fred Morden and Thomas Miles were amongst about 30 local fellows from this largely British ranching settlement who voluntarily enlisted to defend the interests of the mother country in this geographically far-removed war.

When the trio did not return, the community constructed this hospital in memory of their supreme sacrifices. Remotely located and little more than a generation removed from its 1878 establishment, this frontier settlement had scarcely received rudimentary attention from the medical profession up to that point.

Connor worked as a doctor at the hospital for four years, until 1915. One of the nurses he worked with was Rose Husband, who later married Lionel Parker, a homesteader from east of town.

Hospital and medical practices, although primitive by today’s modern standards, would have been quite up to date for a rural ranching settlement nestled in the far western reaches of the Canadian Prairies during the 1910s.

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Surgery, still in its infancy, was performed only in the most serious cases. Ailments that were treated included everything from broken bones and injuries from nearby coal mining and railway industries to contagious diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

Long hours and hard work were the call of the day.

Other medical work and social affairs

During the second year of the Great War, Connor resigned his position at Memorial Hospital and took on medical work in Lethbridge.

Much of his surgery work would have been done at Sir Alexander Galt Hospital, a two-storey brick building at the west end of Fifth Avenue South that overlooked the prairie-sculpted Oldman River Valley. That impressive structure now houses the city’s museum and archives.

Shootin' the Breeze connection to more local stories

Connor’s practice expanded quite significantly in this urban setting, to a point where his health was seriously impaired. In spite of the latest medical attention, including several surgical procedures, he developed a lingering illness. Sadly, he passed away on Jan. 31, 1929, having just turned 48.

Connor’s wife was Lena Florence Connor. She was nearly seven years his junior, having been born in November 1887. The couple wed in 1910, and two daughters were born to this union.

Florence passed away on March 22, 1976, aged 88.

Both Dr. and Mrs. Connor were active members of the St. John’s Church of England parish during their four-year stay here.

Socially, they were close friends with the Dobbie family, connected with the prestigious Arlington Hotel on the north side of Main Street; public school teacher Miss Mary Bull (1870-1941); Henry and Elizabeth M. Hyde, who were known in local banking and political circles; and businessman Charles Hart, who with his brother-in-law operated the Montgomery and Hart Ford dealership garage, which dated back to 1914.

The history of the Pincher Creek area was blessed with a number of pioneer medical doctors who worked hard to improve the general health of our frontiersmen. Often working without good facilities, these individuals dedicated themselves to the betterment of the settlements they served.

One such individual was Dr. Edward Connor, who practised medicine here for four years, mostly at the old Memorial Hospital, located north of the creek.

Edward Lawrence Connor was born in January 1881 in Windsor, Ont., and was raised in a family of five children. He had one brother and three sisters.

He showed early interest in pursuing a medical career, and following his public schooling he studied medicine in the United States. This was followed by postgraduate work in Vienna, then a significant cultural centre in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire that dominated much of the European map prior to the First World War.

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

Further studies were taken at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where the frontiers of medical science were constantly being pushed back.

Early years in Pincher Creek

Dr. Edward Connor launched his first medical practice here in Pincher Creek, arriving in the autumn of 1911. He set up his office in a small frame building on the south side of Main Street, just east of the old Hudson’s Bay Co. store and west of St. John’s Anglican Church.

This structure, noted for its bright windows facing out to the street, served him well for conveniently receiving patients in the centre of town.

Connor also practised medicine in the two-storey Memorial Hospital, architecturally noted for its eye-catching veranda. Located in the north part of Pincher Creek on what was to become John Avenue, the community’s premiere hospital facility was named in honour of the three local casualties of the South African War of 1899 to 1902.

 

Also read | Frontier chronicles of the Fugina family

 

Robert Kerr, Fred Morden and Thomas Miles were amongst about 30 local fellows from this largely British ranching settlement who voluntarily enlisted to defend the interests of the mother country in this geographically far-removed war.

When the trio did not return, the community constructed this hospital in memory of their supreme sacrifices. Remotely located and little more than a generation removed from its 1878 establishment, this frontier settlement had scarcely received rudimentary attention from the medical profession up to that point.

Connor worked as a doctor at the hospital for four years, until 1915. One of the nurses he worked with was Rose Husband, who later married Lionel Parker, a homesteader from east of town.

Hospital and medical practices, although primitive by today’s modern standards, would have been quite up to date for a rural ranching settlement nestled in the far western reaches of the Canadian Prairies during the 1910s.

Ad for Creekview Dental Hygiene clinic in Pincher Creek

Surgery, still in its infancy, was performed only in the most serious cases. Ailments that were treated included everything from broken bones and injuries from nearby coal mining and railway industries to contagious diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

Long hours and hard work were the call of the day.

Other medical work and social affairs

During the second year of the Great War, Connor resigned his position at Memorial Hospital and took on medical work in Lethbridge.

Much of his surgery work would have been done at Sir Alexander Galt Hospital, a two-storey brick building at the west end of Fifth Avenue South that overlooked the prairie-sculpted Oldman River Valley. That impressive structure now houses the city’s museum and archives.

Connor’s practice expanded quite significantly in this urban setting, to a point where his health was seriously impaired. In spite of the latest medical attention, including several surgical procedures, he developed a lingering illness. Sadly, he passed away on Jan. 31, 1929, having just turned 48.

Connor’s wife was Lena Florence Connor. She was nearly seven years his junior, having been born in November 1887. The couple wed in 1910, and two daughters were born to this union.

Florence passed away on March 22, 1976, aged 88.

Both Dr. and Mrs. Connor were active members of the St. John’s Church of England parish during their four-year stay here.

Ad for Blinds and More in Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass

Socially, they were close friends with the Dobbie family, connected with the prestigious Arlington Hotel on the north side of Main Street; public school teacher Miss Mary Bull (1870-1941); Henry and Elizabeth M. Hyde, who were known in local banking and political circles; and businessman Charles Hart, who with his brother-in-law operated the Montgomery and Hart Ford dealership garage, which dated back to 1914.

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