Ric Hall’s Photo Corner: ‘Depot’ Post Hospital Steward

Photograph of RCMP Shabrak with MP and crown (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles)





For this week, Ric Hall selected the theme of “Depot” Post Hospital





Ric outlined “I was scrolling Joe Healy’s Buffalo Blog and came across the below photograph of the “Depot” Post Hospital (oops..Medical Treatment Centre) interesting to see, for us old dogs, in the background the new buildings surrounding it today.  it also brought back some fond and not so fond memories for me and probably a few of you.”

2014 - Photograph of the old RCMP "Depot" Post Hospital building (Source of photo - RCMP Gravesite database website).

2014 – Photograph of the old RCMP “Depot” Post Hospital building (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database website).

Since the March West in 1874, the Force has had medical staff to support and assist with injured and ill members.  Ric has included below extracts from various Force policy manuals outlining the management of medical services provided past members of the Force:

Photograph of a 1895 NWMP Policy Manual (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles)

Page 16 of the General Orders of the North-West Mounted Police (1895) states –

Any expense for dentistry which cannot be attended to by the Post surgeon is to be borne by the member of the force incurring, the same.  Surgeons will see that they are provided with the necessary instruments for drawing teeth.”

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Rules and Regulations of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (1909) outlined:

Section 424 – “A hospital, properly equipped and furnished, shall be maintained at the headquarters of the Force, and at such other posts as may be found necessary, for the treatment of the sick.”

Section 426 – “The principal Medical Officer is stationed at headquarters and has the entire charge of the Medical Department of the Force, and is responsible to the Commissioner for the property conduct thereof.”

Section 435 – “The Medical Officer at each post will make a sanitary inspection of the barracks weekly and submit a report to the Officer Commanding which is to be forwarded to the Commissioner for his information and that of the Principal Medical Officer.”

1916 - Photograph of RNWMP member in the "Depot" Post Hospital with visiting Force friends (Source of photo - Vancouver Division - RCMP Veterans' Association).

1916 – Photograph of RNWMP member in the “Depot” Post Hospital with visiting Force friends (Source of photo – Vancouver Division – RCMP Veterans’ Association).

The duties of a Hospital Steward was outlined in the RCMP Rules and Regulations (1936)-”

Section 1025 “A Hospital Steward may be appointed when necessary at each Police Post.”

Section 1027 – “He will be responsible for the furniture, equipment, needing and medical and surgical stores of all kinds.”

Section 1032 – “He will attend at meal times and see that food is properly cooked and served and that the patients conduct themselves in an orderly manner.”

Section 1044 – “He will rise at reveille, clean and air the wards and see that all urinals are emptied and cleaned, that all dirt is removed from the wards and that the bedding is exposes to the air, if possible,  for one hour before the bed is made.”

Section 1045 – “He will assist in bringing meals from the kitchen at the proper hours, and return all utensils after they have been used.”

Section 1055 – “Patients will obey the instructions of the hospital steward and matron and, if they consider they have any cause of complaint, will report to the Medical Officer.”

Section 1061 – “Chewing tobacco will not be permitted.”

Section 1064 – “Patients will make little noise as possible while in hospital so that they may not disturb or annoy their sick comrades.”

As  one can see from above, the  “Depot” Post Hospital Steward position was not a popular position one and probably had few volunteers for this position.

According to the book entitled “Behind The Badge: History of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police “Depot” Division” –

In June of 1953, Mike Carroll was working for the Force at “Depot.”  Mike managed the Post Hospital and was the “unofficial barber.”  It was Mike who gave recruits what was often their first ‘close’ haircut.  Mr Carroll’s main responsibility was as the i/c of the Post Hospital.  At morning Sick Parade, he would screen the recruits and decide who the doctor would see and who would received some over-the-counter remedy from his nearby medicine cabinet.’

Ric outlined –

In 1965/66 – I do not believe Mike Carroll was the barber any longer, but was full-time i/c of the Post Hospital.   I least I don’t recall him cutting my hair before him treating me at the hospital.  

I recall my first visit to see Mike Carroll for an injury during training.   We were in the Riding School preparing to mount to head outside for a nice brisk ride in the snow.  

After the usual inspection by Corporal Jessiman, we were given the command for “open ranks” in preparation for mounting our horses.   The horse and rider on either side of me would move forward.   The horse on my left decided that it was a good time to stretch his legs and he kicked out with his right rear leg and caught me in the left knee. 

I dropped to the ground, like a rock, mind you, still holding onto the reins.   Cpl. Jessiman, came riding up and in my mind it always seem like he he came in like a hockey player spraying ice chips into a goalie’s face, only it was dirt coming from his horse’s hooves as they dug into the Riding School dirt.  

The Riding Staff must have used this line many times over the years, “is that horse all right?”   Not sure if he meant mine or the horse that kicked me.   I believe I uttered “Yes Corporal.”   I managed to get to my feet and eventually mounted my noble steed.   We made it outside with the able assistance of “Trixie” the stable dog, barking at us on the way out.    While Riding in endless circles outside trying to keep warm, my knee was killing me and eventually I fell off the  my horse…the first time!    Cpl. Jessiman told me to walk the horse back, clean it and report to the Post Hospital.”

It seemed to me, and many others, that that remedy for any physical injury during training was the heat lamp! Once I reported to the Post Hospital, there were no other patients. I got the whole heat lamp treatment from Mike Carroll. I guess it must worked although swollen my knee seemed to have survived….it only hurts once an awhile today!”  

Ric further outlined –

“In the mid-1970s and as a member of the Drill Staff, I appeared at the Drill Hall door to meet and greet the awaiting troop.   Doesn’t everyone remember that first Drill Class and the Drill Instructor throwing the clipboard with troop’s nominal roll off to the side?  

While doing the troop inspection of a graduating troop, there was a distinct aroma wafting from the troop, garlic and stale smell of booze.   Seems the night before they had been celebrating their graduation early!   They were in sorry shape….two ways to handle this situation…make the suffer through a series of “marking time” and sweat it out of them or take the more merciful route for their next instructors.   Off to the Post Hospital!  

They were marched to the Post Hospital and lined up outside.   I went in chatted with the nurse, not a Mike Carroll, aka the barber, but a real nurse.   Explained the situation and that I thought some mouth wash for troop might help them with their next classes.   A tad unusual she said, but with a smile and a chuckle she agreed!   Some sullen looking faces from the troop members as there were a few who probably were not deserving of this quick fix.   But it is probably one of their “Depot” stories they will always remember.

 Funny, how one picture of a little brick building at “Depot” can stir these memories.   There must be a billion plus stories from “Depot” and training.”

November 1972 - Photograph of Mike Carroll at the time of his retirement (Source of photo - RCMP Quarterly edition 39 - volume 3).

November 1972 – Photograph of Mike Carroll at the time of his retirement (Source of photo – RCMP Quarterly edition 39 – volume 3).

On November 3, 1972, Mike Carroll retired from the Force as the “Depot” Hospital Attendant after serving in this position for the previous 26 years.  At his retirement function, Chief Superintendent R.P. Stone (Commanding Officer of “Depot” Division) presented Mike Carroll with a special gift – wooden plaque a condemned stethoscope and epaulette bearing he rank insignia of a ‘colonel.’  Clearly, the character and personality of Mike Carroll were attributes that few possessed thereafter.

If you have any old Force photographs that Ric could include in a forthcoming Photo Corner, please email Ric at rshall69@shaw.ca.  He will scan the photos and return the originals to you.

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage