Pioneer Home Remedies AKA Things Not To Do

Put a little oil on a burn so it doesn’t get crusty? Sulfur mixed with molasses to “clean you out” if you have constipation? Willow bark shampoo to cure dandruff? Wash your hair and head with kerosene to get rid of head lice?

No, I’m absolutely not suggesting you go out and try any of these. In fact, I strongly recommend that you NEVER try any of these. These are home remedies used in Lethbridge and southern Alberta in days past.

Back in 2001, the Galt Museum & Archives hosted an exhibit called Feeling Better. This exhibit looked at the history of medicine in southern Alberta. As part of the exhibit, we invited people to come in and record some of the home remedies that they remembered from their parents and grandparents. We also went around and collected as many home remedies as we could.

For years we have had this collection of home remedies and haven’t done much with them. I’ve wanted for years to put them together into a book but this just hasn’t happened.

But this year, 2010, we’re celebrating the 100th year of our building – which was once, of course, part of the Galt Hospital. Medicine and home remedies are being discussed again amongst Galt staff. And the home remedies we collected got another lease on life.

copy of home remedy Galt Hospital calendar.jpg

They were, along with pictures of the Galt Hospital and other health institutions in southern Alberta, put together into a 2011 calendar. As you flip through the page of the calendar, you’ll get glimpses into medicine of the past – and be incredibly thankful you were born in this day and age! Medicine before antibiotics is not something I really want to think about.

Personally, I still think we should publish the book of old-time remedies. There are way too many to be all used in the calendar and this is something we shouldn’t let languish in a drawer for another 9 years. But Michelle, our store manager, doesn’t think we have enough for a full-size book.

So if you have remedies you want to add to make the book long enough, please send them into the Galt. The more, the merrier. Then maybe I can convince Michelle that there’s enough material to print the book. THANKS to everyone who provided home remedies in the past and to those who are going to send some in now!!!