In 1883 Hernit Kristofersson, with his
wife and small son immigrated to Canada and stayed with Hernit's
brother, Sigurdur, the same Sigurdur who first settled in Argyle at
'Grund'. While a young man in Iceland, Hernit worked with a
homoeopathist (also spelled homeopathist) and thus acquired some
knowledge of the principals used in this type of medicine.
Hernit's knowledge of medicine became known in the district and many
would come to him when illness struck their family. In those early
years there was no doctor in Argyle, and his knowledge was invaluable.
In later years, when a doctor was available, people would still go to
Hernit for advice and
Johann (Joe) Christopherson is Hernit's youngest son. Today, at 82
years young, he well remembers watching curiously as his father mixed
medicine for those seeking his assistance.
Often in the years preceding that date, Dr. Cleghorn would refer
mothers to Hernit for the special mixture he used for young children.
It was a dilute combination of water, alcohol, and belladonna —and was
dispensed two or three drops on a spoon.
Hernit Kristofersson was a true son of Iceland, a hardy soul with a
determined spirit — qualities which were shared by his friends and
neighbours, themselves sons and daughters of Iceland
Adapted from For Those We
Serve, Page 6
The Medicine Woman, Lilly Montroy
Lilly Montroy, a "medicine woman" serving those families around Rock
Lake could speak Cree, French, English, Salteaux and Blackfoot. Her
knowledge of medicine was taught to her by others at Indian Springs.
Lilly was a midwife as well and attended many mothers in the area. Her
'medicine' was sought on a regular basis by not only the Metis families
in the area but also by the settlers who heard of the success of her
cures. Lilly Montroy kept her medicines in packages, and when asked to
help a neighbour, she carried some of these with her in a pouch.
While reading the history of William and Mary Clark in Argyle's
history, "Come Into Our Heritage", we note that following passage:
"When the time came for her fourth child (the first born in Argyle) to
be born, William recruited the aid of two Indian women who lived near
the shores of Rock
Lake. They made her drink hot tea which they made from some herbs that
they had brought with them. Mary always claimed that that was the
easiest childbirth she ever had." It is highly possible, that the tea
was made from pincherry or plum bark.
Adapted from For Those We Serve, Page 4
First Nations Cures
In 1884, E.M. Holmes, Curator of the Museum of the Pharmaceutical
Society, collected information about Cree pharmaceuticals and
specimens, some of which are noted here:
Pow-e-men-artic (Fire Root, or Bitter Pepper Root).—This is the rhizome
ofAcorus Calamus, L., or a nearly allied species,
and is used in coughs.
Wakinakim, the bark of Juniperus communis, L..This is used to make a
poultice for wounds. The beneficial action of the bark
is doubtless due to its great astringency, and to the volatile oil
present in it, which would naturally act as an antiseptic.
Milawapamule, Comus sericea, Herit., (Red Willow Rark).— The bark is
used as an emetic in coughs and levers. 1'or coughs the bark is boiled
in water and the decoction strained and given while still warm in the
dose of a wineglassful every few minutes until vomiting supervenes. For
colds and fevers a teaspoonful of the decoction is taken occasionally.
Nepatihe, or Green Alder.—This is the bark of Alnus viridis, DC. It has
a very astringent taste with a slight bitterness and a
flavor recalling that of the leaves of Arbutus Uva-ursi. It is used is
Metoos (Populus) Poplar Bark.—This has a bitter, slightly mucilaginous
taste with some astringency, and a fibrous
texture. It is used in coughs. The inner bark of the poplar is eaten in
the spring, and is considered to act as a mild purgative.
Wetchus-y-usk-wa, or Service Tree, (Pyrus)—This is in the form of thin
shreds scraped off the young branches. It is of a
yellowish-white color on the inner surface, and of a purplish- brown on
the outer. It is used in pleurisy and inflammitory
We-suk-a-pup (Kalmia angustifolia, L.)—The twigs with leaves and
flowers are used in bowel complaints and as a tonic.
Karkar-pukwa or Country Tea (Ledum latifolium, L.).—The fresh leaves
are chewed and applied to wounds.