BURRIS, H.L.




Author Tags: Local History, Mitchell Press, Physician Author

H.L. Burris' Medical Saga: The Burris Clinic and Early Pioneers is not only a history of the Burris Clinic in Kamloops, but also a history of medical pioneering in the North and South Thompson, the Thompson River Valley and the North Okanagan.

Written with the assistance of Colleen Stinton, a graduate in nursing from UBC, Medical Saga describes the first group practise in Kamloops. "Our quarters at the back were of ample size for the time being and allowed room for expansion. Besides our individual offices, we had a fair sized surgery for treating ordinary wounds, crushed fingers, dental extractions under anaesthesia, and for a good number of years, tonsellectomies. Some years later this last was given up as being too unsafe."

Before coming west to B.C., Burris had studied medicine in Nova Scotia. "In my native province in very early days a senior medical student asked a practising country doctor how he made a diagnosis of diabetes from examination of the urine. His reply was, 'I look for sugar.' 'How?' asked the enquirer. 'I pour some of the specimen on a board and place it in the sun. If flies swarm to it in great numbers it must contain sugar and the diagnosis is made.'"

In 1913, Burris traveled to Vienna, Austria for postgraduate studies. X-Rays technology (Roentgenology) was new at the time. "Some of the eminent Roentgenologists were now suffering from the effects of prolonged exposure to the rays, and I frequently saw one of them. He had lost two fingers and his hands were covered with wartlike growths, the forerunners of cancer... His death was reported in our medical journals some years later."

Burris also includes a chapter on serving as a medical doctor in World War I, biographies on the founders of the Burris Clinic, and a detailed account of his journey to reach a patient in the Shuswap area by dogsled.



[BCBW 2004]