We Made Hartney

We Made Hartney

Medical Services

Pharmacist Fred Woodhull



Interior of a typical turn-of-the-century pharmacy.

DOCTOR FRED WOODHULL (1863-1919) began his medical practice in Deloraine in 1888. But when a fire consumed all his belongings in 1889 he bought a drug store from the doctor in Hartney – on the condition that he not practice medicine in competition.

“Doc” Woodhull abided by this agreement, and for 30 years Woodhull’s Drug Store provided top-notch pharmaceutical services to Hartney. Early on “Doc” was assisted by his sister, Miss Margaret L. Woodhull, who registered as an apprentice and graduated in 1900. And when Fred Woodhull opened a drug store in Alameda, Saskatchewan it was Margaret who managed that operation.

“Doc” Woodhull led a very busy and productive life as a local apothecary, and some extracts from our local history suggest the character of that life: Six years after the store opened it was doubled in size. During the years they progressed from coal-oil to electric lighting. But according to some, the building of the new store seemed to change the complexion of things and most of the glamour departed. Prescription files however must contain the names of most of the people who lived here at one time or another. We have customers still living here who have dealt with us through five generations, and it gives much pleasure to be able to count them our friends.

Dr. Woodhull was six feet tall and weighed over 250 pounds. He appeared distinctly stout and was slow in his movements. He was seldom seen to hurry as his rotund figure moved easily between his home and his business. His face was round, his lips somewhat pouting and his eyes dark and friendly as he greeted all.

Dr. Woodhull inaugurated The Hartney Star, of which he was editor. It was printed in rooms behind the drug store. That enterprise ultimately was sold to Walpole Murdoch in 1901. Until that time Dr. Woodhull involved his father, brothers and assistants in its production, and for many years Dr. Woodhull used this opportunity to record the events of the district, the opinions of the editors and of subscribers with many prodding suggestions for the building and improvement of the community. The lack of poetry was remedied with poems old and original in many issues.

Dr. Woodhull, besides conducting his business and editing The Hartney Star was interested in music, in sport and in civic improvement. In 1893, with assistance of Mr. Isabey, he organized a brass band which he conducted for many years. The band practiced over the Pierce Pump Factory and played at community gatherings. Later Dr. Woodhull started an orchestra which enlivened many public gatherings and supplied music for entertainment in Hartney and in nearby towns. The Woodhull store sold musical instruments of all kinds and prices, from violins at $5.00 with bow and case, to more valuable ones priced at $300.00.

Many who were interested in music gathered in the evenings at the drug store, especially when a piano awaiting sale was on display, and heard, or took part in, an informal concert, or listened to the phonograph records that were to be found there. At one time a dispensary quartet was formed, the leading signer of the group being Percy Hollingshead, whose ability Dr. Woodhull recognized and encouraged.

Adapted from The Mere Living, page 138.

Miss Margaret Woodhull

Miss Margaret Woodhull preceded her brother as apprentice and graduated in pharmacy in 1900 – the first woman pharmacy graduate in Manitoba. Dr. Fred Woodhull opened a second drug store in Alameda, Saskatchewan, which Miss Woodhull managed. After her mother’s death in 1907 she returned to the Hartney store, but later she owned and operated drug stores at Davidson and Asquith in Saskatchewan. When Dr. Woodhull died in 1919, Miss Woodhull returned to the Hartney store which she operated until another brother, Harvey, returned to Hartney. Miss Woodhull retired to rooms over the drug store and followed her hobby of painting pictures of scenes along the Souris River.

Adapted from The Mere Living, page 143.


Miss Margaret Woodhull. 

Our Heritage  People / We Made Hartney