Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Newfoundland Drugstores - a history by John K. Crellin

Published by Flanker Press
Reviewed for Edwards Book Club

I was pleasantly surprised when I began reading this book. Perhaps because I have a personal interest in the subject, indeed I recall many of the concoctions that were still in use in the 1940s as well as remembering stories heard about the various "chemists" in my own ancestry. But I must stick to the book.

This is really an evolution of apothecaries and drugstores from the early 19th century through it's growth. John K. Crellin has written a well-researched, presented and illustrated history in general but particularly in Newfoundland. At the time, Newfoundland was not a part of Canada, so most associated companies and ideas were British. At one time many of the medicines were mixed with mortar and pestle, though some were imported from Britain and France. The changes in the present and into the future are worthy of note. We learn that drugstores have at one time or another contained besides medicine, such things as candy, cosmetics, perfumes, sodas, books and other items usually expected in other stores. We appear at this point with our huge drugstores, we might say we have come full circle.

I enjoyed reading this book and learning so much of the past and present. How the druggists handled crises, their doctoring skills, among others. This is a capsule of the evolution of drugstores everywhere, but in Newfoundland the history is abundant. A very interesting part of a history we all share in a way.

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