History | Dr. Hayes' 1877 report to Council | Back
The following is a transcription of an article published in the 26 Dec 1877 British Canadian newspaper. Paragraph breaks were inserted by the transcriber to break up long paragraphs.

The report of the Medical Superintendent was as follows: --

To the Warden and Members of the County Council, in Council assembled:

Gentlemen -- In submitting my report as Medical Superintendent of the County Goal and Poor House, I would state that the year just drawing to a close has been an eventful one in the history of the Poor House.

At the destruction of the buildings by fire, on the night of August 4th last, we lost seventeen of its inmates. Many of them were among the first admitted at the opening of the institution, who had become very aged and infirm; while others were mere children; but both alike helpless to escape from the terrible conflagration. 

Several who did escape were badly burned and bruised, and were a long time recovering from their wounds.

After the fire the injured were conveyed to the County Coal, where one of the number, John Traviner, subsequently died from the effects of his burns. The rest recovered, but will bear the traces of their severe scorching to their graves.

On the 10th of October last, one of the inmates named McCarthy died in the temporary building from chronic inflammation of the stomach.

Edward Damons, another inmate, who, owing to his feeble condition, had been removed to the Goal after the fire, died last month, after lingering a long time and suffering much from the infirmities of old age.

The girl, Jane Innes, who was employed as help for the matron, contracted a severe cold during the fire, which brought on an attack of Typhomalarial fever, under which she succumbed. 

The matron, Mrs. Coleman, was afterwards also attacked by the same fever, but after a long illness recovered. Extra precautions were observed, and the disease thus prevented spreading amongst the inmates.

The temporary building in which the inmates are at present lodged, is totally unfit to be used much longer for the purpose, as it is a mere shed and impossible to be heated should severe cold weather set in.

I am not aware of the intention of your building committee, but in my opinion it would be unwise to take these old and infirm people into a newly plastered house in the middle of winter. No matter what precautions are taken, it is impossible to thoroughly dry the plastering and render it safe to live in. 

There are several large homes vacant in Town at present, one of which I think could be procured for a moderate sum for the winter months and thereby run no risks in shortening the days of these old people by an attack of rheumatism or inflammation of the lungs.

In regard to the new building, which I had the pleasure of inspecting the other day, I would wish to suggest some alterations. I have never seen the plans of the house or I would have made these suggestions to the building committee.

At each end of the hall, down stairs, running east and west, a door is very desirable for the purpose of ventilation, and also to allow the inmates to get to the rear of the premises, otherwise, as at present planned, they must go out by the front door or through the kitchen. If a door is put at each end of this hall the whole interior of the building can be thoroughly ventilated.

It is also necessary that the Medical Superintendent should have a small office, where he can keep and compound medicines. Hitherto he was compelled to use the matron's room, which was very inconvenient for both.

I would suggest that one of the rooms next to the matron's downstairs, be divided into a surgery and a small pantry for the matron. 

A small sum of money, I think, would be well invested in a bell, to be placed on the roof of the building, to be used for summoning the inmates to their meals, and also, in case of fire, to rouse them from their sleep and the neighbors to render assistance.

Last, but not of less importance -- in fact, in my opinion, from experience learned in he old house, of the greatest moment -- is the mode of heating the premises. 

The only proper and safe plan is by two large furnaces -- one at each end of the cellar, with pipes leading to all the rooms and halls, so arranged that the inmates can have no communication with them. By this means you can insure an equable  temperature at all times. 

If you adopt the old system of stoves in the rooms, it will be impossible, (as it was in the old house,) to prevent the inmates from continually filling the stoves with wood, thereby, at times, having the temperature too high and again too low.

By the hot air plan the inmates need have no access to the furnaces and the temperature can be so regulated by the matron or assistant as to always secure the required heat. It is also the cheapest way of heating the house, as there can be no waste of fuel by the inmates, and you at the same time lessen the risk of fire by doing away with the stoves and stovepipes.

I took the liberty of consulting with Mr. Montross, who has had considerable experience in the putting up of furnaces in this town, and he kindly, at my suggestion made an estimate of the probable cost which I herewith submit for your inspection. 

I would also recommend your committee to procure iron instead of wooden bedsteads, as the advantages of the former will be quite apparent to you all. 

The foregoing are a few ideas which struck me on visiting the new house a few days ago, and I have submitted them to your honorable body, assured that they will be accorded a fair consideration at the hands of your committee.

the gaol

My duties as Gaol Surgeon, for the past year have been more than usually onerous, owing to two causes, namely, the admission of prisoners from the County of Haldimand and those injured at the burning of the County Poor House.

Those prisoners admitted from Haldimand were more or less ill, with few exceptions, not, I am convinced, from diseases contracted while here, but due to the fact that malarial diseases were more than usually rife in the County from which they came.

One female was committed from Haldimand for murdering her two children; and, after trial, was declared insane. She is still in our Gaol awaiting a vacancy in one of our Asylums.

The morning after the fire at our Poor House, four of the inmates who were badly burned, were brought here and cared for. All recovered except one, John Traviner, who succumbed after lingering four or five days. 

I would here commend the Gaoler, Mr. Robert Little, and his Assistant, Mr. Thomas Little, for their humane and kind attention and care to the injured. Their burns required daily attention, in which I was ably seconded by the above named gentlemen.

In concluding this report for the year 1877, I would respectfully subscribe myself,

Your obedient servant,

Dr. James Hayes

Dr. Hayes' bio

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