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Dr Woods History

Dr. Robert Woods and his wife pose for a black and white photograph in the early 1900'sRobert 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.

Museum History

Dr. Woods House Museum in Leduc, Alberta 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...

Oliver Goldsmith



Black Inventors

     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