Dr Woods History
Robert Theodore Woods was born November 7, 1870 in London, Ontario. He attended Western University and graduated in 1895. He practiced medicine in Kansas where he resided until 1902. In that year he came to the Leduc district in Alberta and homesteaded in the Telfordville area west of Thorsby.
Dr. Woods did a lot of veterinary and medical work for the pioneers in the area. When Alberta became a province in 1905, Dr. Woods decided to resume his medical practice, but required a license. His neighbours, with the help of MLA Robert Telford, helped him obtain his license by petitioning settlers as far away as Calmar. Each person who signed agreed to pay Dr. Woods $2.00 a year for his services. Early in 1908, Mr. Telford sponsored a private Member’s Bill in the Alberta Legislature to allow Robert Woods of Strawberry Creek to practice medicine. Five months later, Dr. Woods moved his family to Leduc, where his mother Mattie, sisters Emma Jane and Kathleen (a school teacher) and sister Martha Louise and brother-in-law Dr. James Baker already lived.
Dr. Woods married Olive Hopkins of Kansas in 1903. For the next five years the Woods’ homesteaded on Strawberry Creek near Telfordville. Their first child, Edwin, was born there in 1905. Sometime later another son was born, but unfortunately died from a fall off a horse. The family moved into the town of Leduc when Dr. Woods obtained his medical license, and daughter Marion was born there in 1915.
As a rural doctor, Dr. Woods faced many difficult situations with few medicines and inadequate facilities. He was a strong believer in cleanliness; he felt that homesteaders, with fresh air and soap and water, could reduce illness. With no telephones, Dr. Woods travelled many miles to visit his patients, day or night regardless of weather conditions. In winter he donned his buffalo coat and fur gauntlets and went out with horse and cutter. In later years he travelled to attend his patients in his Hupmobile during the summer months. During the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 Dr. Woods worked day and night with little more than aspirin to treat this dreaded disease.
Dr. Woods had hospital privileges at the old Misercordia Hospital in Edmonton, often taking patients in by train. Often new settlers, unable to pay doctor’s bills, would give Dr. Woods a few chickens, butter, eggs, milk or a bag of potatoes for his services.
In 1923 Dr. Woods was granted a certificate from the Medical Council of Canada, which entitled him to practice anywhere in Canada.
For a time Dr. Woods had his office above the Harness Shop on Main Street, then in his home on Freeman Avenue, now 48th Street, across from the Junior High School. In 1927, Dr.Woods bought the lot of the present Museum from Mr. John Flood and built a modern Craftsman style bungalow with an attached medical wing. The lot had been the site of the first Merchants Bank of Canada until Mr. Flood purchased it in 1904. The stones in the fireplace and in the front porch pillars, prominent features of a Craftsman bungalow, were hauled in by horse and wagon from their original homestead at Telfordville. The Woods family moved into their new home in the fall of 1927.
Dr. and Mrs. Woods were a well admired couple in the community. Dr. Woods served on the town council and also as medical health officer and coroner for the town of Leduc and the municipal districts of Liberty and Black Mud. He took an active interest in politics and for a number of years was president of the Leduc Conservative Association. Dr. Woods belonged to various lodges of the day: the Orange Lodge, the American Woodmen, the Canadian Order of Foresters and the Moose Lodge. In 1932, Dr. and Mrs. Woods were honored to lead the Grand March at the opening of the Calmar Hall, an event attended by over 700 people from Edmonton, Thorsby, Leduc, and Wetaskiwin.
Dr. Woods enjoyed gardening; his yard was full of trees, flowers and shrubs. He particularly enjoyed grafting roses and his rose beds were considered most admirable.
Dr. Woods enjoyed his practice, and his family. Thanks to his uniquely designed home, he died within a few feet of his office on Wednesday April 22, 1936 at the age of 65. Dr. Woods is buried in the Edmonton Cemetery.
After the death of Dr. Woods, Mrs. Olive Woods sold the home on 4801-49th Ave in Leduc in 1936 to Mr. McCready. The home actually went through four owners before the city of Leduc bought it back in 1982. The Leduc and District Historical Society renovated the home and operate the Museum to the present day. In 1993, Dr. Woods House Museum was designated an Alberta Registered Historic Site, and in 2008, an Alberta Municipal Historic Site.
There are several interesting footnotes in the intervening years between the Woods’ residence and the City’s ownership. This building was home to MLA Ronald Earle Ansley during the late 1930’s. Mr. Ansley was known at the time for helping spearhead the backbencher’s revolt against Alberta Premier William Aberhart. In the early 1940’s, this modest bungalow was actually home to three families at once: one family lived on the main floor, another in the medical wing, and a third in the garage – now the tea room. In later years, the upstairs attic was used as sleeping quarters for a number of children when large families owned the home.
The Leduc and District Historical Society mandate was to restore the home to depict the domestic and professional life of Dr. Robert Woods, a pioneer doctor of the area. The Museum collects, preserves, researches, exhibits and interprets artifacts reflecting the period of life from the late 1920’s to the early 1940’s shown in a Canadian doctor’s home in a small prairie town.
The Museum building itself remains a fine example of the Craftsman style of architecture of the 1920’s. The exterior of the Museum communicates these ideals with the pebble dash stucco walls, low-pitched roof with cedar shingles, and welcoming veranda entrances. Each room in the house has been restored and furnished according to information received from Marion, Dr. Woods’s daughter, in detailed correspondence. The Art Deco period of decoration is particularly strongly represented.
The Leduc and District Historical Society have given a tremendous amount of time in this huge endeavor. The restoration of the building, the acquisition of artifacts with the proper conservation and handling involved, the cataloguing, displaying and management of all resources was a multi-year commitment on the part of many volunteers. The presentation of living history through a museum gives us all a place of pride, a sense of place and an identity in our world. The Leduc and District Historical Society have done an invaluable service to our community in the preservation of Dr. Woods House Museum.
The Lonely Settler
What noble courage must their hearts have fired
How great the ardour which their souls inspired,
Who leaving far behind their native plain,
Have sought a home beyond the Western main;
And braved the perils of the stormy seas,
In search of wealth, of freedom, and of ease!
Oh! none can tell but they who sadly share
The bosom's anguish, and it's wild despair,
What dire distress awaits the hardy bands,
That venture first on bleak and desert lands.
How great the pain, the danger, and the toil,
Which mark the first rude culture of the soil.
When, looking round, the lonely settler sees
His home amid a wilderness of trees;
How sinks his heart in those deep solitudes,
Where not a voice upon his ear intrudes;
Where solemn silence all the waste prevades,
Heightening the horror of its gloomy shades;
Save where the sturdy woodsman's strokes resound,
That strew the fallen forest on the ground.
See! from their heights the lofty pines decend,
And crackling, down their pondrous lengths extend.
Soon from their boughs the curling flames arise,
Mount into the air, and redden all the skies;
And where the forest once its foliage spread,
The golden corn triumphant waves its head...
Product Inventor Date
Air conditioning unit Frederick M Jones 1949
Almanac Benjamin Banneker 1791
Auto cut-off switch Granville T. Woods 1839
Auto Fishing Device George Cook 1899
Baby Buggy William H. Richardson 1889
Biscuit Cutter Alexander P. Ashbourne 1875
Blood Plasma Bag Charles Drew 1945
Chamber Commode Thomas Elkins 1897
Clothes Dryer George T. Sampson 1971
Curtain Rod Samuel S. Scrottron 1892
Curtain Rod Support William S. Grant 1896
Door Knob and Door stop Osbourn Dorsey 1878
Egg Beater Willie Johnson 1884
Electric Lamb Bulb Lewis Lattimer 1882
Elevator Andrew Miles 1867
Eye Protector Powell Johnson 1880
Fire Escape Ladder Joseph W. Winters 1878
Fire Extinguisher Thomas Marshall 1872
Folding Bed Leonard C. Bailey 1899
Folding Chair Nathaniel Alexander 1911
Fountain Pen Walter B. Purvis 1890
Furniture Caster David A. Fisher 1878
Gas Mask Garrett Morgan 1914
Golf Tee George T. Grant 1899
Guitar Robert F. Flemming, Jr. 1886
Hair Brush Lydia O. Newman 1898
Hand Stamp Walter B. Purvis 1883
Ice Cream Scoop Alfred J. Cralle 1897
Insect Destroyer Gun Albert C. Richardson 1899
Ironing Board Sarah Boone 1887
Key Chain Frederick J. Loudin 1894
Lantern Michael C. Harvey 1884
Lawn Sprinkler John H. Smith 1897
Lemon Squeezer John Thomas White 1893
Lock Washington A. Martin 1893
Lubricating Cup Elijah McCoy 1895
Lunch Pail James Robinson 1887
Mail Box Paul J. Downing 1891
Mop Thomas W Stewart 1893
Peanut butter George W. Carver 1896
Pencil Sharpener John L. Love 1897
Record Player Arm Joseph H Dickinson 1819
Rolling Pin John W. Reed 1864
Shampoo Headrest Charles Orren Bailiff 1898
Spark Plug Edmond Burger 1939
Stethoscope Thomas H. Carrington 1876
Straightening Comb Madam c.J. Walker 1905
Street Sweeper Charles B. Brooks 1890
Phone Transmitter Granville T. woods 1884
Thermostat Control Frederick M. Jones 1960
Traffic Light Garrett Morgan 1923
Tricycle Matthew A. Cherry 1886