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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 29, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta Icturday, Jcnuary It, THI IITHMIDOI HEUID Margaret Lnckhurst People of the south 29 A pioneer doctor and his wife look back 'THERE are many senior cl- tizeni in Alberta who like to hike and hunt, to take trips and ride horseback but how many still engage in all these energetic activities at the age of 90? Believe It or not, Robert Rip- ley, Dr. Dick Woodcock, pioneer doctor of Lethbridge and dis- trict, rides when the weather is good, doesn't let monotonous snowfall keep nun Indoors in winter, and hunts a little when he gets the chance. And yes, he'i 90. A very young SO, mind, lor he hasn't surrendered to age, and has no intention of doing so. Looking much young- er than his years, he takes a mischievous delight in referr- ing to other not-quite-so-elderly doctors in the city as "mere kids." Dr. and Mrs. Woodcock cele- brated their 6flth wedding anni- versary this past week at a re- ception arranged by their fam- ily. It was attended by well- wishers, many of whom were patients of the doctor's, and others who have been friends of the couple for decades. In an interview in their charming home, both Dr. and Mrs. Woodcock, who are ex- tremely modest In speaking of themselves, were coaxed into reviewing some of their early recollections of life in Alberta stretching back nearly 70 years. "I was born in Iowa in 1882, the doctor explained, "and my wife was born in Minnesota. I had all my early education in Iowa, later graduating in medi- cine from the University of Iowa in 1907. Following gradu- ation I decided to come to Al- berta, which I did in 1908, set- ting up a practice in Enchant." Now how in the world would young doctor in Iowa hear of an opening for a medical prac- tice in Enchant, Alberta? "Oh, I saw advertisements about Alberta down in Icma and it sounded pretty excit- the doctor grinned. "I was looking for adventure and thought perhaps I could com- bine homesteading with a prac- tice. The fare from Iowa was a cent a mile, so I made the decision to come here, and I've never regretted it. It's the most wonderful place in the world to The young doctor had a friend in Lethbridge who was able to give him a bit of help in choosing where to settle and he advised the Turin area. "But there were so many peo- ple filing for a homestead at the land office that the lineup was half a mile long. I gave someone ahead of me a five dollar bill to let me take his place and I got through the lineup quicker." From the sound of it, the young doctor's homestead was typically nigged. The govern- ment apparently was satisfied if homesteaders proved up about ten acres a year, which to begin with, pioneers includ- ing the doctor, did with oxen. He built himself what he terms "a shack" and hung up his shingle. "There were a lot of young people coming into the area at the the doctor recalled, "and of course they had no money so I got paid in chickens and eggs. I made ray calls in a horse and buggy, and often it took many hours to complete just one call." But people then were immen- sely hospitable. When the doc- tor arrived to attend to their ills he would be invited to take meals with them, and if the case necessitated, he would even stay overnight. "I was able to make faster progress after I bought my first car, back in the doctor said. "It was a Model T and I was mighty proud of it." The building of the irrigation (fitch to Vauxhall during the First World War held Dr. Woodcock in Enchant, although he felt he should move on. "It was steady work, and I got paid for it so I couldn't leave just he explained. During these early years, ru- ral doctors often had to com- pound their own drugs, and were issued pharmaceutical licences. Among Dr. Woodcock's many certificates Is one which states that he was admitted to the Pharmaceutical Association in 1916, number 375. In 1912 Dr. Woodcock mar- ried his Amanda, a relatively close neighbor who lived only about five miles distant. "My family came up from the States in Mrs. Wood- cock explained, "so we were a couple of years ahead of the doctor. We settled at Sundial on a homestead. We also had i little store Including the post office which was interesting be- cause