Service on the Skeena : Horace Wrinch, frontier physician
Horace was born on a farm in Essex, and travelled to Canada at the age of 14, seemingly alone. After finishing his schooling at an agricultural college in Quebec, he farmed in Ontario for about fifteen years. Converted to Methodism, he became determined to serve as a medical missionary, and to that end qualified as a doctor and surgeon at Trinity Medical College, taking top honours. He married Alice Breckon, a nurse and schoolteacher, and someone as dedicated to service as himself. In 1900 they travelled to Kispiox in the Upper Skeena district in northern British Columbia and in a couple of years they moved to Hazelton, where he built a hospital, founded a nursing school and started a hospital farm. It was the first hospital in the interior of British Columbia from Atlin in the far north to the Cariboo. In 1907, to help fund the hospital and to create a sense of community around it, he established a basic form of health insurance. For a dollar a month a member could obtain a ticket entitling him or her to medical and hospital services. This scheme lasted for several decades. Horace was a magistrate for over twenty years, a community leader and a minister of the Methodist Church. Always interested in public health, he helped found the British Columbia Hospital Association in late 1917 (or early 1918) and served as its president for two terms. Drawn into politics in 1924, he served as an M.L.A. for two terms. In the Legislature in Victoria he became a well-known advocate for state health insurance. He introduced a motion for its adoption it in 1927. 'Mr. Speaker, ' Victoria's Daily Colonist recorded him as saying, 'the necessity of health insurance legislation is a matter of vital importance for the people of this province. ... In discussing the idea with sensible people, I have failed to hear one cogent argument advanced against the project.' Continuing, he argued that the time had come for the House to commence the process of introducing province-wide health insurance for all citizens. His motion in the House propelled the train of events that led to the British Columbia Health Insurance Act. Given Royal Assent on April 1, 1936, this Act was the culmination of many years of work by Horace and many others.
legislators biography clergy health insurance history histoire hospitals juges judges physicians history, 20th century médecins british columbia assurance-maladie parlementaires colombie-britannique médecins biographies clergé community-based health insurance 20th century 20e siècle clergé