Dr. Frank Hamilton Mewburn


One of the most colourful figures in early Lethbridge was Dr. Frank Hamilton Mewburn, who arrived in Lethbridge in December 1885 and accepted a post as Medical Officer with the North Western Coal & Navigation Company. Working from a three-bed hospital on the banks of the Belly River (now Oldman), he served the medical needs of the town of Lethbridge as well as the scattered farmers and ranchers of surrounding regions. Dr. Mewburn performed the first appendectomy in western Canada and did house calls – doing surgery on kitchen tables and pool hall tables or whatever was available. In 1913, Dr. Mewburn decided to move to Calgary to specialize in surgery. When the First World War broke out in 1914 he enlisted as a major, later winning promotion to lieutenant colonel. In 1921, he was called to Edmonton and asked to head the newly-created Department of Surgery at the University of Alberta.

As the only doctor in Lethbridge in the early days, when he went out on house calls, that left the nurses behind to run the hospital. He would yell to them, as he ran out the door, “I’ll be back. Don’t let anybody die.”

Anine VonkemanComment