Tag Archives: mac williams

Drugs of the 1950s from Mac William’s Shelves– Iodine, Liniment and Camphor Oil

Drugs of the 1950s from Mac William’s Shelves– Iodine, Liniment and Camphor Oil


Photo-thanks to Doris Blackburn/ Karen Blackburn Chenier — now located at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.

Once upon a time having rheumatoid arthritis was a really serious problem and chances are if you lived in the area you went for a walk over to Mac Williams to see what he could do about your Rheumatism and Neuralgia.

Everyone thought only old people got this disease. It was like this: “there’s gramps, limping along slowly, leaning heavily on his cane. He has the rheumatiz.” Or “there’s gramma, crocheting winter scarves–slowly, slowly–with gnarled, misshapen fingers, but she rarely complains. She has arthritis.”


Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

There were other misconceptions back in the olden days, too.  Did you know everyone thought osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis were the same disease? There wasn’t much you could do for it and chances are what Mac Williams had available were hopeful, but mostly useless.

For instance Mac would probably tell you that you could rub hot vinegar on your sore joints. Or, you could gulp down a refreshing glass of orange juice –with cod liver oil–right before bedtime. That liniment in the photo looks like it might be soothing; it probably still exists in some form that you can buy online today.

Tincture of idodine

God how I hated iodine! My Grandmother would bend my leg up and pour the whole bottle on that cut— boy, did that smart! It always left you with an orange stain and Grammy would blow on the cut while she was trying to stop you from freaking out. Of course I was known to have a scream that was heard as far as East Farnham some days if I saw Dr. Roy come near me with a needle– so no one ever interrupted their day when they heard Linda Knight scream. Ever- they knew medical madness was afoot with that young Knight gal.

Camphorated Oil

Although many people have no idea of what camphorated oil is, they have heard of it from an old song. In this song, sung to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” John Brown’s baby had a cold upon its chest, so he rubbed it with camphorated oil. As the song suggests, camphorated oil is good for colds and flu and my Grandmother sang it to me each time she pulled that darn bottle out.

Camphor oil is known for it’s strong, nasty aroma. Large doses can be toxic, but Grammy Mary Louise Deller Knight ignored all that I swear. She said she always had things in her medicine cabinet to make you feel better — and she did– but I can still smell them 60 years later.  Did you know a treatment for schizophrenia, initially was through an injection of camphor oil. And let’s not forget that same oil was used as a balm on cold sores and chapped lips. Yuck!!

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Photo thanks to Lorraine Nephin- Bruce Sadler’s vintage Canadian newspapers


Before and After in Carleton Place — Mac Williams and The Good Food Co

The Savoy Medicinal Truffle at Pattie’s Drugstore

Who was the “Drugstore Woman” in Asselstine’s Rexall?

I Will Take Some Opium to Go Please —The “Drug Dispensary” at the Chatterton House Hotel

What the Heck was Electric Soap? Chatterton House Hotel Registrar

Do You Know Where Mary Cook Once Worked?

Before and After in Carleton Place — Mac Williams and The Good Food Co



.mayhew Milliner schwerdtfeger tobacconistFINAL EC

If you look at the picture of this building,  Miss Mayhew’s and  Schwerdtfeger ‘s stores became ‘As Good As New’.  The man that looks like he is holding on to the hitching post is standing in front of what is now The Good Food Co.


Before The Good Food Co. that particular location was a hardware store, a tailoring business, a grocery store and Mac Williams Drugstore. Mac Williams retired in 1982 and is still missed. If you search in the media archives online, chances are you won’t find much about Mac Williams except that maybe that he played in a baseball game at Riverside Park between junior teams of Carleton Place and of the Smiths Falls C.P.R. club in 1919.

But, if you are old enough to remember Mac William’s Drugstore, then you must have bought candy on your way back and forth from the Central School. If you close your eyes some of you can probably still see the Coca Cola cooler sitting in the right hand window. Then there was that big TV test tube testing machine in the front of the store when a television had test tubes.

Mac William’s was said to be the kindest man in town, and once in awhile he would drop off sandwiches to feed the less fortunate on the steps of the former Zion Church. Mac even spent time chatting with them.

Many town kids used his front lawn on Beckwith Street so they could slide down the hill from his house to the parking lot for the old arena. Most times the sleds were made out of cardboard, and if you didn’t have one, he would always magically come up with something suitable from the drugstore.

The children of Carleton Place were always welcome in Mac William’s yard and store. When you went into his drug store he always had a free rolo ice cream cone, or maybe some free chocolate. It’s a wonder he stayed in business so long being so giving, but I have a feeling that Mac Williams knew that being generous in spirit was the way to live.

The Good Food Co. 28-seat cafe has been serving up delectable, seasonally-inspired, from-scratch fare since August 1997. Did you now that they serve fair-trade coffee by the Equator Coffee from Almonte and that their bread is supplied by Baker Bob’s in Almonte?

In Memory of Mac Williams and his generous heart.


Photos from the Carleton Place Carleton Place Canadian files from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum



Shelley13 hr. ago
Mac Williams is my beloved grandfather. I have heard so many stories about him. We could only wish that there were more human being like him. Grampa will always be my hero. He taught me so many life lessons and a day does not go by that I think of him. He will always be my special person.