In the early days, physicians from Sudbury or Coniston would come once or twice per week to Garson to provide medical services to the townspeople. The first recorded doctor to serve the Garson area was Dr. Patterson. Dr. Patterson would travel between Garson and Coniston, providing medical care to those in need. He resigned in 1915 and was succeeded by a series of medical practitioners.
It wasn't until the late 1930's that Garson finally had its own resident doctor. Dr. L.J. Kirk originally came to Garson in the mid-1920's as a young doctor. He returned years later to provide his services to the community on a more permanent basis. His medical office, located on the corner of Pine and Church Streets, also served as his residence. It was one of the few brick buildings in the town at that time.
Dr. Kirk cared for the people of Garson for many years before resigning on February 15, 1957. During his term as Medical Officer of Health, residents were provided with convenient health care and vaccinations, and were encouraged to participate in the mobile blood donor clinic. Upon his departure, residents were forced to go to the Health Clinic in Sudbury for their vaccinations until in 1972, a new clinic was built on Church Street.
Today, Garsonites have their own walk-in clinic which caters to the everyday medical needs of the community, however, they are required to travel to the hospital in Sudbury for more serious medical conditions and emergencies.
Like most pioneer communities, mothers-to-be in Garson would rely on the services of a midwife to deliver their babies. Garson was fortunate to have at least two midwives; Ellen Armstrong (who delivered many of the children in the community), and Mrs. Maria Bontinen (who served as a midwife for the Finnish community).
Midwives were an essential part of medical care in the early years, especially in a time when traveling doctors were common and the chances of having a physician on hand to perform deliveries were small.
Throughout Garson's history, midwives were responsible for the delivery of most if not all of the infants. This practice slowly began to fade as more and more mothers were brought to St. Joseph's Hospital in Sudbury to have their children.
Today, midwifery is gaining renewed support and interest throughout Greater Sudbury as families look towards a more natural form of childbirth in a less intimidating atmosphere.
Material compiled from Voices from the Past: Garson Remembers.