GenWeb de la Basse Côte-Nord

Quebec Lower North Shore GenWeb


Le GenWeb de la Basse Côte-Nord est une composante du GenWeb du Québec et du Canada GenWeb.

The Lower North Shore GenWeb is part of the Quebec GenWeb and the Canada GenWeb Projects.


Home Remedies and Midwifery


She Borned A Lot Of Babies


By Sharon Chubbs-Ransom RN, OPN, Nurse-Midwife


Prior to medical care arriving on the Coast with the advent of the Grenfell Mission in 1905, people took care of their own health needs. They had many home remedies and folk medicines. Some well-known remedies were bread poultices used for infection. A slice of bread would be put in warm milk or water and applied on a dressing to the infected area. The bread drew out any pus and when removed the infected area was clean. Mustard plasters were applied to a person with a severe cough to loosen phlegm on the chest. Juniper berry tonic was drunk to enhance a person’s appetite. Epson salts or magnesium sulphate was mixed in water and drank as a blood cleanser in the spring. Balsam gum or turpentine was used to stop bleeding and cleanse cuts. These remedies worked very well.


Midwifery was practiced widely and nearly every village had a local midwife. Some of them had lay-training and others got caught when there was no one else around. From that time on, because they managed once, they were called on again and again. Some well known midwives along the coast were: Jane Hann-Bobbitt of Harrington Harbour (she was known locally as Aunt Jenny “Sniff” because her nose ran and she sniffed and wiped it on her sleeve; Bella Mitchell-Bobbitt of Harrington Harbour; Madame Christine Mauger of Tete-a-la-Baleine; Madame Celine Blais of Tete-a-la-Baleine and Point-au-Maurier; Aunt Carrie Fequet-Buckle of Old Fort, and Aunt Louisa Gallichon of La Tabatiere.


There were many others but few were as well known as Uncle Jimmy Monger of Whale Head. He delivered many babies around the Whale Head area, including his own children, and up as far as the Blais and Point-au-Maurier.  Dave Ransom told me that once when he was hauling his trawl, he saw “something afar on the water”. As it drew near he realized it was someone rowing. It was “Uncle Jimmy” rowing up to Point-au-Maurier, a distance of some 20 miles, to attend a woman in labor. He had been taught by his mother Christine Morissette-Mauger, when he was about 12 years old. It is said she took him with her to her deliveries. In Dr. Hodd’s early days, he was called to Whale Head to a difficult delivery. This man was in the room when Dr. Hodd arrived. Dr. Hodd asked him to leave. Uncle Jimmy looked at Dr. Hodd and replied “Moi, mais Non”! This was Dr. Hodd’s introduction to Uncle Jimmy Monger, the midwife.


Following the arrival of the Grenfell Mission, there were many nurse midwives trained in the British system. One long term midwife on the coast was Mary Stockley, another was Ella Hewitt. They both worked for the Grenfell in Mutton Bay and Harrington. Ms. Stockley delivered my sister Dale at home in La Tabatiere, and Ella Hewitt delivered my brother Garry in the nursing station in Mutton Bay. My mother didn’t make it to the midwife in Mutton Bay to deliver me. On a sunny Sunday morning in July 1953, Mom realized she was in labor, “going to be sick” as they called it back then. My father and my Uncle Sammy got the boat ready, the same boat that the day before had been loaded with salt for the herring fishery. As they passed Old Post, Mom asked if they might stop and get the lay midwife. Dad, not realizing the whole picture said, “I don’t think so, Aunt Louisa (Gallichon) is old and might fall getting down the stage head”. Going through “Boulet’s Tickle” is where I was born! Mom was a local midwife herself so she was not afraid, however, Dad was afraid and Uncle Sammy was sick! Mom waited for the nurse midwife at Mutton Bay to cut the cord and deliver the placenta. When Ms. Hewitt, the midwife, arrived she cut the cord, wrapped me in a blanket and tucked me into a coil of rope until she had taken care of my Mom. There was little room or time for fuss in those days.

Date entered on the Web: 13 March 2005


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Thank you to the previous coordinators, Sharon Ransom and Marc-André Gosselin, for their excellent work !
We are looking forward to reading your suggestions and comments. / Il nous fera plaisir de lire vos suggestions et commentaires.

Dernière mise à jour: 13/10/2016

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Suzette Leclair, Provincial Coordinator, Quebec GenWeb Project