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Johnstone, Annie (1899–1994)

Annie Johnstone, ca. 1978.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A22852

Annie Johnstone was born at Souris River near La Ronge on December 25, 1899. A northern Saskatchewan Métis, she lived most of her life in Pinehouse Lake, where her husband farmed and managed a Hudson’s Bay Company store. Mrs. Johnstone was a skilled practitioner of traditional Native medicine, tied closely to First Nations spirituality. She had an extensive knowledge of plants and herbs which she first acquired from her grandparents as a young girl, and later passed on to others. She was known to cure patients who had not been helped by modern medicine.

At the age of 15, Annie learned how to be a midwife from local women through first-hand experience, supplemented with information from a medical textbook. For sixty-five years she was nurse-midwife for the Pinehouse area. Despite her lack of formal training she successfully handled all kinds of births, including the most complicated, in an area where there were no doctors and transport was by canoe or dogsled. She delivered over 500 babies without the loss of a child or a mother. She received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 1991, and died at La Ronge hospital on July 24, 1994.

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