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Dr. Euchariste Sirois and The Marburg Private Hospital

Business card of Doctor Euchariste Sirois, Marburg, 1909

Business card of Doctor Euchariste Sirois, Marburg, 1909 – Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich

Doctor Euchariste Sirois was born in Quebec ,Canada in 1854 and trained in dentistry and medicine at McGill University Montreal , where he received his qualifications in 1883. In 1909 after practising medicine for 25 years in the City of Montreal and the American states of Massachusetts and Colorado Doctor Sirois decided to travel to Brisbane, Australia and later moved to the small rural town of Marburg where he immediately established a local medical practice.

At this point in time Marburg was a small town that had a large German settlement with many of these families establishing dairy and pig farms as well as vegetable and grain crops; Sugar cane and coal were also widely produced and mined in this area in the early 1900’s. While practicing in Marburg Doctor Sirois lived in the Marburg Hotel and set up his practice with the assistance of surgical supplies man Carl Zoeller. Sirois became very popular with residents due to his expertise and many years of experience received while living in Canada. As well as serving the local Marburg community Sirois was also often called out to rural parts of the district to tend to other medical cases. After practising in Marburg for 3 years he decided that there was a great need for a local private hospital for residents and in 1912, with land purchased on his arrival from the local sugar company, he started constructing the beginnings of a surgery.

On this 1 acre block of land that fronted Edmond Street Marburg, the Doctor built his private residence as well as a two room surgery. Later he bought another acre of land that joined the above property to the east and here he built a 22 room hospital, that included 10-foot verandah’s all around, multiple pantries, three bathrooms, five water closets, 16 large water tanks for sanitation, a dining room and enough bedrooms for 12 patients. The hospital was completed in 1912 for a sum of 5,000 pounds and as well as catering to patients needs the building also contained a large medical laboratory and surgical room with the latest scientific implements. The Marburg Private Hospital was a great success and well ahead of its time in many respects, including the use of gas lighting throughout the building and the installation of Marburg’s second telephone in the local area.

Marburg Private Hospital, 1920's

Marburg Private Hospital, 1920’s – Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich

The hospital was staffed by one of Doctor Sirois’ close friends Matron Louisa Linning on opening, however it soon became clear the this her assistance was not enough as often the hospital, although only fit to have up to 12 patients was often overcrowded with up to 15 patients. It was therefore decided that a second nurse be employed to assist Matron Linning with her daily duties. As the Marburg hospital was a private establishment many residents were required to pay for its services, and over the course of its first 3 years of operation the practice made 1,777 pounds profit. As well as treating patients in the hospital the Doctor was still also often called out on home visits, however sometimes due to his busy schedule he was unable to make it and in cases such as these he would call on Dr. Trumpy and Dr. Cooney to visit from Ipswich.

While practising in the town of Marburg Dr Sirois became involved in many key facets of the towns history including its name change in 1918 to “Townshend”. The Doctor and most Marburg residents were extremely unhappy with this change and a petition was started by Sirois to return the name back to the original “Marburg”. Over 200 signatures were gathered and many letters were sent to the Post Master General and the Governor of Queensland, and after much insisting the name reverted back to its original at the ending of World War 1. As well as this great feat the Doctor also worked tirelessly in ensuring the establishment of road over the Marburg Range to Minden and the upgrading of the main road that then ran through Marburg from Ipswich to Gatton.

In 1923 at the age of 69 Doctor Sirois decided to retire form his life-long profession and sell the hospital. The hospital was sold to Doctor De Pinna, however in 1924 they found that it was in ruins due to De Pinna’s inability to pay the upkeep on the premises as promised in the sale. The property therefore reverted back to the Sirois who was required to pay for its refurbishment. A court case also ensued with De Pinna suing Sirois for defamation after a comment was made on his dismissal from the property, the case was found in Docotr De Pinna’s favour. The Private Hospital remained in operation for several more years, with Sirois happy to welcome back his patients.

In 1930 the hospital was once again sold this time to the State Government, where it was used as a women’s rehabilitation centre and later a home for alcoholics. The Doctor remained in Marburg with his wife where they built a house in 1933 on a four acre property purchased a short distance up the road from the hospital. In 1935 Doctor Sirois retired from active medical practice after 52 years in the profession, and was celebrated with much pomp outside the Marburg Private Hospital. Many residents, Ipswich Doctors and businessmen came to Marburg that day to congratulate the Doctor on all his great achievements while practicing in the area.

In the last years of his life Sirois tended to the male patients at the alcohol facility that resided in his old Private Hospital premises. Several days before his passing Doctor Euchariste Sirois still managed to maintain his daily rituals of visiting these patients at the facility, however on the 13th of June 1947 at the age of 93 he became extremely weak and passed away in his Marburg home. A large funeral was held at St. Joseph’s Church Marburg, with many local residents in attendance to celebrate this great practitioners life. In an address delivered at his funeral the Doctor was described as thus by Father Driscoll:

“His has a depth and nobility which no amount of learning can possibly give. His character was deeply rooted and solidly founded on something much firmer. He was more than naturally good.”

Dr. Euchariste Sirois, Marburg ca. 1909

Dr. Euchariste Sirois, Marburg ca. 1909 – Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich

Information taken from: “A tribute to Euchariste Sirois C.M., M.D. 1854-1947″, Marburg Medicos, QT 5/3/1926, p. 6, “One man’s dedication”, The Centenary of Marburg School – Marburg”, “Our past” (QT article), “Hospital going” (QT article)

(Note: this post was modified on 22/11/17)


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