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Letters from Patients


“I want to sing you the song of men who lived and struggled and died.”

- Opening line of a poem that L. Bruce Robertson kept with him when overseas.

Bruce was a compassionate man, interested in the ongoing welfare of his patients. His commanding officer said that “Dr. Robertson in his quest never forgot his individual patient.”

Bruce invited his patients to write to him about their progress after they were discharged, sometimes even providing self-addressed envelopes to the soldiers.  Many did keep in touch, and these letters offer valuable and touching insights into the lives of those soldiers who returned home from battle, wounded and grateful to be alive.

Thanks to these letters, we can see how Bruce’s care changed the lives of these men.  We also learn about the experience of recovery for injured soldiers, told in their own words.

Letter: A. Forrester – June 7, 1917

The doctor here said it is a very remarkable operation & I have a lot more to thank you for than I thought.  I believe God guided your hand.

-A. Forrester - June 7, 1917


A. Forrester – June 7, 1917  letter
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Letter from A. Forrester to L. Bruce Robertson, June 7, 1917
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0071909

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Click below to hear a portion of the letter above

Audio Transcript


Letter: Dorothi C. James Robertson – July 21, 1922

This is just a short note to ask you if you will be a Godfather to our wee son who put in an appearance on July 8th […].  We feel he really owes his existence to your wonderful work in saving his Father’s life [...].

- Dorothi C. James Robertson – July 21, 1922


Dorothi C. James Robertson – July 21, 1922 letter
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Letter from Dorothi C. James Robertson to L. Bruce Robertson, July 21, 1922
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0071914, I0071915

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Click below to hear a portion of the letter above

Audio Transcript


Letter: Eli Routley – Dec 29, 1916

My dear son, Pte. [Private] F.S. Routley, […] speaks of yourself with the greatest enthusiasm & regards the nurses as ministering angels, a proposition we all very thankfully & heartily endorse.

- Eli Routley – December 29, 1916


Eli Routtey – Dec 29, 1916 letter
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Letter from Eli Routley to L. Bruce Robertson, December 29, 1916
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0071911, I0071912

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Audio Transcript


Letter: Albert Hayhurst – Nov 23 (no year)

You must forgive me for not writing before, but I wanted to get better first […]. My stomach has healed up nicely.  I cannot bend very well, but I think my stomach will get stronger in time.  Don’t you Doctor?

- Albert Hayhurst – November 23 [no year]


Albert Hayhurst – Nov 23 (no year) letter
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Letter from Albert Hayhurst to L. Bruce Robertson, November 23 [no year]
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0071903, I0071904, I0071905

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Audio Transcript


Letter: R. Scott Dempster – Oct 23, 1917

I want to thank you very much indeed for the skill with which you did my knee & for the kindness shown me in the CCS [Casualty Clearing Station].  I hope you are safe & well & haven’t been shelled lately.

-R. Scott Dempster – October 23, 1917


R. Scott Dempster – Oct 23, 1917 letter
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Letter from R. Scott Dempster to L. Bruce Robertson, October 23, 1917
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0071906, I0071907

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Audio Transcript


Letter: B.W.A. Massey – Aug 27, 1917

I am conscious that I owe most of all to your handling during my amputations and the “transfusion” at the CCS [Casualty Clearing Station] […]. I wish to thank you […] most sincerely.

-B.W.A. Massey – August 27, 1917


B.W.A. Massey – Aug 27, 1917 letter
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Letter from B.W.A. Massey to L. Bruce Robertson, August 27, 1917
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0071897, I0071898

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Audio Transcript


Letter: Harold Grinter – no date

While I was at your CS [Clearing Station] you amputated my two legs, and you gave me your address to write [...]. It may interest you to know all the Doctors here with the exception of the Surgeon are Ladies.

-Harold Grinter – [no date]


Harold Grinter – no date Letter
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Letter from Harold Grinter to L. Bruce Robertson, [no date]
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0071899, I0071900

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Audio Transcript


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