The Hospital

The importance attached to health care by the North West Company can be seen in the existence of two buildings for this purpose. Up to 1811 at least, the Doctor's House and Apothecary was probably the only place used for medical treatment. By 1816 a separate hospital had been built, as Selkirk's Plan shows. In addition, the North West Company always had a doctor stationed at Fort William during the summer months.

Certainly there was great need for medical facilities at Fort William since, for most employees, nothing beyond first-aid treatment had been available during the preceding year. Ailments among fur-traders included fevers and colds, infections, cuts and wounds, and venereal disease. Hernias caused by heavy carrying undoubtedly were common among the voyageurs. In the age before antiseptics and antibiotics, remedies included bleeding, purges, emetics, expectorants, as well as balms and potions of all kinds.

It has not been determined exactly how the function of the hospital differed from the apothecary.  Since the apothecary took up a large area in the building known as Dr. McLoughlin's House and Apothecary, it may have been used for treatment or convalescence even after the hospital was built.