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dr Smiley

Dr. Newton Smiley
[ William Newton Smiley  M.D.
January 13 1857 - June 12, 1946 ]

[italics] denote additional details made for  clarification

Dr. Smiley brought my father and all my family (my brother, my two sisters and myself) into the world. He also delivered the first child in the third generation. My sister Edith’s first child, Maureen, was delivered by Dr. Smiley January 2, 1938.

[Maureen was the last child to be brought into the world by Dr. Smiley. At the time of her delivery he was retired but his replacement, Dr. Coupal, was away on another case so Dr. Smiley, always the reliable country Doc, he responded to the desperate plea of the expectant father.]


His hair was white as far back as I can remember him. He did not have a lot of pounds of fat to carry around. He always walked very erect, always dressed in a dark suit. He kept a little tin box in his pocket and would take out little squares of dried orange peel to chew on.

Dr. Smiley was  typical of a country doctor around the turn of the century. His ways and manners verified this. First he was a doctor, regardless if a person could pay or not, nor what time of the day or night he was needed. 

When he first came to Rawdon after graduating from McGill University Medical School in Montreal, he travelled on horseback. Later, as the trails became roads, he went by horse and buggy or sleigh. In my time he had a black roadster, possibly a DeSoto.

 [Dr. Smiley was a graduate of the Bishop’s Medical College in Montreal and he “spent two years in Massachusetts”. The Medical college was called Bishop‘s and was not the university at Lennoxville.]

We did not go very often to his office on the corner of Queen Street and 4th Avenue. It was a low building with a veranda across the front.
desoto roadster 225
There was a garage on the south side for his car. The attached house on the north side was a step up and a storey and a half high. A nice coat of paint would have relieved the drab appearance of the building. The office had a big window and the door was solid with a knocker on it.

There was not much furniture in the large waiting room - under the window was a long bench with rungs on the back, there were a few wooden captain’s chairs, his desk and a stool. On the wall hung a ‘Charles Frosst’ calendar with its red nosed gnomes.

 From 1915 until 1996, health professionals all across Canada received a calendar which featured the healing efforts of the Dingbats. Charles Elliot Frosst founded the Canadian company that bore his name until more recently it was taken over by a major American manufacturer to become Merck-Frosst. Charles Frosst engaged the artist, William Dudley Burnett Ward, to paint an appealing calendar for distribution to his firm's audience.

It was so appealing the Frosst continued the resulting Dingbat© calendars for 81 years with a succession of different artists.
However, the Dingbat calendars were discontinued as a result of a Canadian industry's association decision that the Dingbat promotion was unfair competition.]

There was also another poster advertising Vicks ointment with its elves living in a giant blue Vicks jar with a flight of stairs going up to the open door of the blue jar. A jolly looking red-nosed elf stood in the doorway. Other elves were gathered around in the foreground dressed in greens and reds. These colourful pictures helped make a child’s imagination soar.

To balance these seemingly happy scenes, there was a framed picture in sepia tones that showed a doctor sitting at a child’s bedside anxiously looking for a sign that the child was over the crisis.

Off the waiting room was the inner room was where he kept his pills, medicines and other medical supplies.

The incident I remember most concerning Dr. Smiley happened when I was about seven years old. [1929]  It was late spring with still a coolness in the air. Mother had made me  a new coat. She had taken her old blue coat and turned the cloth inside out to make me a new coat. It was so nice to have a coat that was made especially for me! My sister, Edith, and I had just arrived back at after having gone home for dinner. The older girls were playing scrub baseball in front of the schoolhouse. As I was too young to join in, Edith told me to sit on the front steps out of harm’s way. She then joined the older girls at play.

Earlier that year, one of the girls had broken her arm. The break had not healed properly and so she had only the use of one arm. It was her turn to bat. I do not know if the bat flew out of her hand or if she threw it, but it struck me on the side of the forehead. I was stunned from the blow. As I was being helped upstairs to the primary classroom, I saw blood on my new coat. It was more of a concern to me what Mother would say about staining my coat than the injury I had suffered.

When  the class was settled down to their lessons, Miss McKell took my hand to walk me up to the doctor’s. On the way up she called me “her brave little soldier’ as I had not cried. Praise like  that from my adored teacher put wings on my feet.
[Margaret Martha (Marna) Mckell was born 13 March 1911 at Aubrey, Quebec, in the Chatueaguay Valley. She would have been a graduate of School for Teachers at MacDonald College as it was called from 1907-1965
She married John Melvin Brown of Howick on September 5, 1936. They farmed at Howick where Melvin was a farmer and a dealer for John Deere machinery.]

When we arrived at Dr. Smiley’s office he looked closely at the wound. Then he said, as he walked into the inner room, ‘‘I will have to sew it up’’. I had seen my mother patching up my rag dolls and nobody was going to put stitches into me!  Never mind being a brave little soldier I just bawled. Dr. Smiley came back saying, ‘‘I can find only find black thread. I will have to tape it up instead’’.

For a week or so afterwards, I had to go to the doctor’s office every noon hour. He would peel off the tape, and with his penknife, scrape away the dried blood. The fear of him stitching me up overrode the pain and so never a squeak escaped my lips. One of those days, Dr. Smiley was passing the school at noon hour and stopped to pick me up. It was a thrill to have a ride in his car.

Later Dr. Smiley explained to my parents why he wanted to see me every day. The bone had been split three ways very close to the temple and he wanted to keep a close watch on me.

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