Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting at 1030 a.m. and advised of five apologies. He welcomed Richard Cobbald, a guest of last week, who has now joined as a member. Today’s warm up anecdote concerned a dinner, stuffed shirt guests, a five-year old boy’s twist on the act of saying grace causing adult red faces and which received a mirthful response from the audience.

Under “Initial Notices” the Chairman advised that at last weeks meeting £153–40 was raised from the Forum and its individual members for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, a splendid effort, and warmly acknowledged by Mike Bevington (Speaker) and in writing by the organisation.

Making a regular and welcome return to today’s Forum was the popular Professor Martin Curzon with his chosen subject of “Teeth, Trees and Totem Poles” or more accurately “The Tribulations of a Backwoods Dentist”.

In 1965 the Professor and his newly acquired wife (also a dentist!!) took a professional placement to British Columbia to bring dental services to around eleven Indian tribes situated in some really remote areas. Outreach Services had begun its operations in 1948 to bring dental services to outlying areas and by 1960 faced in this geographically immense District around two million people requiring dentistry and medical services. We were told about the core programme aimed at 3–9 year olds funded by the Government with clinics run from 830 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day with other patients being charged and seen between 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Whilst the main and large dental equipment was provided by the British Columbian government each individual practitioner was responsible for their own supplies and instruments.The difficulties and extent of travel to about twenty-five communities was highlighted including the use of Float Planes; the vagaries of the climate noted  and the prevalence of very bad teeth in the populace requiring all aspects of dentistry. Payments were made solely in cash and promptly resulting in vastly depleted local economies much to the chagrin of the local storekeepers. Professor Curzon advised us of the make up of the indigenous (Amerindian) Indian Tribes such as the Coast Salish and Haida all with different languages and all with variances on the types of craft works produced which included Totem Poles, Baskets and Blankets. A number of items were circulated by the Speaker during the meeting which reinforced his comments on the workmanship and fast escalating values of recent years. The heraldic influence on Totem Poles was explained with some of the ancient native tales relating to such as the Raven and Bear Mother  narrated. The type of tree wood used for carving and the inclusion of teeth in many of the carvings was also noted. The impact of modern-day Indian Artists such as Bill Reid (1920/1998) was illustrated.

Many of the clinics operated were based in logging camps and a variety of children’s health problems were evident and not just dental e.g. abscesses, head lice and impetigo. Professor Curzon concluded by stating his time spent in British Columbia had led to his career long involvement in children’s dentistry and he fielded a number of questions and comments from members who had obviously appreciated and comprehended the scope of the subjects covered.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of 44 attendees was given by Vincent Naylor.



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