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Biography & Autobiography Historical

Service on the Skeena

Horace Wrinch, Frontier Physician

by (author) Geoff Mynett

Ronsdale Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2019
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2019
    List Price

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His name was Horace Wrinch. It was 1880. He was 14 years old, a farmer's boy from England travelling on his own to Quebec. Twenty years later, a qualified doctor and surgeon, he arrived in Hazelton on the Skeena River in northern British Columbia as a Canadian citizen. At this time the northern interior of the province had no qualified doctors, no surgeons and no hospitals. In 1904 Horace built the first hospital in the northern interior. Over the next thirty-six years he became widely respected as a doctor and surgeon, hospital administrator, medical missionary, Methodist minister, magistrate, farmer, community leader and progressive politician. Ever innovative, he instituted a form of health insurance for the Hazelton community as early as 1908. In the 1920s, he was a two-term president of the newly established British Columbia Hospital Association and a two-term Liberal Member of the Provincial Legislature for the Skeena riding. While in the Legislature, he championed publicly funded health insurance. Upon his death in 1939, he was called "the most influential and best liked man that ever blessed this district with his presence." Drawn almost entirely from original and contemporaneous sources, this is the previously untold story of a remarkable British Columbian.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Geoff Mynett was born in Shrewsbury, England. He qualified in London as a barrister, later requalifying as a barrister and solicitor in British Columbia. After a career in law in Vancouver, he is now retired and pursuing an interest in history and the arts. He is also an artist, specializing in charcoal portraits. Research for this biography of Horace Wrinch has taken him to archives and libraries in Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Hazelton, and Smithers. He has also drawn upon family papers, photographs and contemporaneous sources to write this story of a medical pioneer and largely forgotten reformer in British Columbia. Visit him online at

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