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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada


H F 21


Linda M. Hoad

September, 1972

Fortress of Louisbourg



Although a great deal of information has been compiled and presented in this report, there are a number of areas where further research is necessary before firm conclusions can be drawn about surgeons and surgery in 18th century Ile Royale.

Surgery as a profession was in a period of rapid transition in France, but little evidence of this situation can be found in Ile Royale. It would be necessary to compare the position of surgeons in Ile Royale to that of surgeons in the other French colonies in order to conclude that this was normal.

The training of many colonial surgeons, and of Lagrange and Bertin in particular, took place at the naval hospital in Rochefort. Without more information about the training offered at this hospital, it is difficult to assess the qualifications of the Louisbourg surgeons-major.

The duties of the surgeon-major in Louisbourg were profoundly affected by the Brothers of Charity and their hospital. A detailed study of this institution might clarify sane of the issues raised in this report. Comparison of the Ile Royale surgeons-major with those attached to some of the other Compagnies Franches de la Marine might also prove interesting.

The evidence presented in this report suggests that Lagrange and Bertin were both surgeons of average competence. Of the two, Bertin was the more conscientious. Since few details concerning their practice have been found, it can only be assumed that they offered the same sort of service, at the same price, as did the other surgeons of Ile Royale whose bills have survived.

Both Lagrange and Bertin trained apprentices who continued to serve in Ile Royale, but not enough is known about these apprentices and the conditions of their apprenticeship to permit one to judge the quality of their masters. It may be significant that neither Lagrange nor Bertin trained a son to follow his profession, a fairly common practice in the 18th century.

The question of the social position of these two men has not been answered satisfactorily. It is clear that they did not have military rank. Lagrange seems to have attained a certain measure of commercial success, but Bertin seems to have been the more respected of the two, as evidenced by his salary and by his participation in baptism and marriage ceremonies.

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