I, Kate Cameron, of Princeville, River Inhabitants, in the Island of Cape Breton, do solemnly declare : --

That I served as an attendant in the Nova Scotia Hospital for the Insane for about four years, that is from 1874 until the 3rd December, 1877, under the management of Dr. DeWolf, and afterwards, from the 6th July, 1878, until January 1879, under the management of Dr. Reid.

That there was a marked difference between the management under Dr. DeWolf and Dr. Reid.

That under Dr. Reid the patients were well attended to and regularly visited by him and his assistant, Dr. Sinclair; that the patients had medicine and sick diet whenever necessary, and their wants in every respect provided for.

That under Dr. DeWolf the food was often unfit for use, and, when sent back, was told that it was good enough, and got no better. The meat I have seen rotten, and as a general thing the tea, butter and meat were bad. I have seen the bread often bad also.

That attention is now paid to the clealiness of the patients. Formerly this was not the case, as the filthy condition of the beds was such that I have seen maggots crawling out of them.

That I have known patients to have been inhumanly treated and sadly neglected. The first act of cruelty which I remember was to an inoffensive women named Elise Turpel, from Granville, who was in the habit of tearing her clothes. She was stripped naked, her hands and feet tied, her hands behind her back, in a room, on a cold December night, in old F ward, in 1874, without a bed. Next morning she was found dead, coiled up in the corner. I was called in to unbind her hands and feet. She had not been visited by the Superintendent or Assistant Physician until she was dead. There was no inquest; the Doctor said she died of cramps.

That it was known to me that Mrs. McCoy, from Lake Ainslie, Cape Breton, was cruelly treated in No. 9 ward. She was often put into the drying room, or closet, and cold water poured over her. One morning I heard that she would not eat her breakfast. I went down to see her, and in about an hour after she died. She had a large cut in the back of her head. I heard that she was opened and there was not a particle of food in her stomach.

That I had a patient named Bridget Dwyer locked in for about three months. Dr. DeWolf only saw her twice during that time, to my knowledge, and the Assistant Physician never once. Numbers of other cases of the same kind.

That a patient named Abbie Armstrong was sick for about five months. She suffered from diarrhœa; nothing done for her, and no suitable nourishment. She died about a week after I left the ward.

That another patient named Mary Walsh was also sick; she had sore toes for about three or four months, and was suffering with diarrhœa; she, too, had neither medicine nore nourishment of any consequence.

That I had to wash blankets, in the Ward, for Dr. DeWolf’s daughter, Mrs. Harrington; they were given to me by Mrs. DeWolf, who stated that Mrs. H. had no tub at ther house large enough. Tha blankets had Ward marks on some of them.

That I was not called to give evidence at the investigation, beleiving that if I had been, and that I told all I knew, my time would be made short in the institution.

That I am prepared, at any time, to substantiate, under oath, before any tribunal, the foregoing statement of facts.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously, believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the Act passed in the thirty-seventh year of Her Majesty’s reign, entitled : « An Act for the Supression of Voluntary and Extra Judicial Oaths. »

Kate Cameron

Solemnly declared before me, at River
Inhabitants, in the Island of Cape
Breton, this 5th day of March, A.D.
John McMaster, J.P.

The following is a copy of Dr. DeWolf’s letter announcing the death of Mrs. Turpel to her son :

10th December 1874.

Mr. Alexader Turpel :

Dear Sir :--

I have to inform you, with much regret, of your mother’s decease, which occured at an early hour this morning. I was called to her, but life was extinct. She had been better than usual of late, and was much attached to her attendant. Her death was due to a fit of paralysis and was very sudden. Please telegraph whether you wish to interment at Darmouth.

I sent you a despatch this morning, which will have reached you ere this comes to hand.

Dear Sir,
(Signed) J. R. DeWolf.

Source: Kate Cameron, "Testimony of Kate Cameron, given at the Inquiry on the Management of the Nova Scotia Hospital for the Insane, 1879," Supplementary evidence as to the management of the Nova Scotia Hospital for the Insane, Mount Hope, Dartmouth ([Dartmouth]: s.n., 1879).

Return to parent page