Lethbridge mentionables include its coalmining history, and the Galt Hospital with both the Red Light district and China Town next door. It was a time when badly wounded war veterans were needing more care than the medical facilities of a small prairie city could muster. It was a time when booze was served along with prostitution, and when venereal disease was often an unexpected by-product.
Johnston, in researching the story, shows insights and experience that reaches far beyond Rideau Hall (where she shares residence with our current Governor General). With her training in rehabilitation science, she lifts to the fore the plight of soldiers who returned with missing limbs and traumatized minds that cast heavy shadows over the rest of their lives.
In the story we have two widowed women: the Matron (Galt Hospital Superintendent Clara Durling) and the Madam (The Last Post owner Lily Parsons). With compassion and creativity they find ways to reach out to care for those in need.
We are reminded again it is through hearing stories from within our communities that we learn our history and see how our spiritual values have shaped us. It is no surprise that story tellers have a special place in each culture. Thank you Sharon Johnston.
Related link: Matrons and Madams