Dr. Bert Weir
Legendary doctor helped birth 2,000 Auburn babies
Dr. B.C. (Bert) Weir is one of the legends of the Auburn community, a doctor who helped bring more than 2,000 area residents into the world.
Dr. Weir was held in such high esteem that on his 40th anniversary of entering practice, an crowd estimated at 2,000 in newspaper reports, gathered outside his home one July night in 1945. The crowd spread beyond his own lawn onto the lawn of the Anglican Church next door. A speaker’s platform, decorated with flowers and lights, was set up for the people who wanted to praise the contribution he had made to his community.
Among the highlights was a march past of 300 of the children he had brought into the world, a demonstration that visibly moved him. It was just a small part of what Dr. Weir estimated later that evening would have been 2,000 babies he helped into the world including 18 sets of twins. He assisted at the birth of all members of one family of 12 children.
Dr. Weir recalled his first patient in Auburn, William Campbell who at more than 90 years of age, attended the celebration. The doctor recalled that he had been so pleased to be treating his first patient (for lumbago) that he used 75 cents worth of adhesive tape, even though his charge was only 25 cents.
The community raised a cash donation of $1,300 to give to the doctor as a token of their thanks.
Dr. Weir was born in Komoka but spent his early years in Delaware and showed an early interest in medicine, setting up an office in his own room with a sign on the door “Dr. B.C. Weir”. His family doctor took him in as a “partner”, taking the young boy on trips to visit patients, allowing him to help taking a patient’s pulse or reading a thermometer.
At 13 the family moved to Strathroy where he attended high school, one of his classmates being Arthur (later Sir Arthur) Currie, who became commander of Canadian forces in the First World War.
He attended “model school” and taught near Kerwood before he went to the University of Toronto, graduating in medicine in 1903. In 1905 he moved to Auburn.
Dr. Weir recalled that when he came to the village the cement sidewalks were just in the process of being laid. There was a two-room school at that time and more businesses, he said. He noted the disappearance of the cooper shop, the hotel, the implement shop and the Auburn brass band. He said community spirit had sadly declined over his years and blamed it on the automobile which, he said, took people away from the community and made them take less interest in their immediate surroundings.