Remembering Dr. Hugh Gastle

Win Stewart with Bill Gastle, Dr. Gastle’s son Win Stewart with Bill Gastle, Dr. Gastle’s son

Tuesday, June 16th a crowd of 120 filled St. John’s to hear and tell stories of Dr. Hugh Gastle’s long medical practice in Lakefield and area.

Linda Harrison and Brenda Hallihan, nurses of Dr. Hugh told stories of the busy office, how he would be teaching them as patients would come in so they could handle some of the simpler ailments. They recall the doctor poking his head out of his office door saying “next”. It wasn’t uncommon for Mrs. Gastle to come looking for their mischievous son, Charlie. Ken Wingett, a long- time employee at Hendrens, who at that time also had an ambulance service, would frequently accompany Dr. Hugh as he would go to an accident site. It was never a dull moment in the practice of Dr. Hugh.

 People from the audience reminisced. One person told of how their son had been hit by a car while on his bicycle scraping his knees very badly as he fell. After the doctor removed the gravel from his knees he said “And I fixed his bicycle”. Another told of how their son had cut his tongue while playing hockey. It had to be stitched. The boy was too for the doctor to freeze his tongue  so he took out a long equine needle to frighten him, the boy fainted and fell on the floor. He and the nurse then put him on the table while he stitched his tongue.

 Win Stewart told the story of Dr. Gastle coming to their home on Smith Street asking if they could trade houses. The Gastles at the time lived in an apartment with the bedrooms upstairs. To use the kitchen downstairs they had to walk through the owners’ living room. Win and Archie, always gracious, agreed, and they traded houses. There, the home practice was set up. Win also told of how Dr. Hugh was able to quickly diagnose their son Bill’s  ailment when he contracted spinal meningitis. As the polio epidemic was in the community it was a tense time.

 This was a fun filled evening as well as giving a profit of $1150.00  to Christ Church Community Museum. The church/museum opens July 1st and is open daily until Labour Day September 7th 1.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. each day. Services of Holy Communion are scheduled for June 28th, July 12th, August 2nd and August 30th at 9.00 a.m. Featured at the museum are displays of two 20th Century doctors of Lakefield, Dr. Hugh Gastle and Dr. John Sherin. Bill Twist’s wild birds’ egg collection, medicinal plants and indigenous healing practices, memories of WW!, DVD’s of The Bill Twist collection of early Lakefield, the Strickland Family History and a self-guided walking tour of Lakefield. For further information call Gwen McMullen 705-652-3024. Admission by donation.