Sunday, October 16, 2016

Meeses Doktor

Joyce Sasse
Joyce Sasse - Imagine having to instruct others how to deliver your child, a breech birth, because the winter came early and you, the doctor, couldn’t get to a hospital?  This is one of the stories told by Dr. Mary Percy Jackson in her biography “The Homemade Brass Plate” – a best read!

Mary graduated from medical school in England in 1928 and came to Northern Alberta to work for one year. Her work, the people and the countryside were so engrossing she stayed for forty years.

The district she served was total wilderness – along the Peace River, almost to High Level. There were no roads, no conveniences, and no primers on how to survive. But the people taught her how to follow the trails, read the weather, lay in supplies, ride a horse, travel on the river and live off the land.

In the earliest days many of her patients were Métis. Soon Ukrainians, Russians, Norwegians and Mennonites came seeking land and freedom. None paid with money during the Thirties, but they were generous with giving her clothing, food, and their eternal gratitude. Money was extremely scarce so “Meeses Doktor” had to be very creative in finding cash to buy chloroform, sutures and plaster-of-Paris.

Mail delivery in the earliest days came eight times a year, and the arrival of supplies happened only when the river could be navigated.

Dr. Percy became Dr. Percy Jackson when she married into the district. Frank was a man-of-all-skills. He had cattle, ran a store and warehouse and did everything he could for his neighbours. His first wife died in childbirth, so Mary inherited three step-children and then had three of her own. Still she doctored, though the step-sons had to teach her cooking and home-making skills.

Teaching public health, establishing a school, dealing with rabies – a few challenges.

What a passion for medicine! She retired from medical practice in 1974 (at age 70) and died 30 years later. Indeed, she served where God planted her.

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