It was a pleasure this morning to welcome back two of our “invalids – David Hill, after a protracted series of treatments, and Mike Peacock, six months since his stroke. It was also great to have a visit from a former Club President, Fred Ayrton, now living in Knaresborough. The speaker was Professor Martin Curzon, Emeritus Professor of Dentistry at Leeds University, talking about “Teeth, trees and totem poles”. It was a story about the 2-year stint of a young dentist on a mission to bring help to the isolated and primitive Indian peoples of western Canada. The remarkable thing about it was that the story was dated some sixty years ago and was told with absolute recall and clarity of detail and emotion. Martin’s contract was to bring dentistry services to the many settlements along the thousand miles of coastal and islands off the coast of British Columbia , to the north of Vancouver. Resources were minimal, with only the basic tools of dentistry, operating in conditions in huts, garages, schools and churches that were problematical. Transport between the sites could take days via truck or ferry. The dental health of the peoples was poor, largely for dietary reasons and lack of any regular treatment. The life was tough and the need was huge. The Speaker was evidently fascinated by the culture and lifestyles of the peoples that he served. They tended to be animistic, living off the countryside, its trees and rivers. This was a land of trees in their millions, largely the red cedar, an easy wood to carve from which they derived much of their livelihood. The culture was visibly expressed in their carving of figurines, household utensils and, dramatically, their family totem poles. Prof. Curzon had a rich appreciation of the imagery of their work which traced family and group heritage in their symbolism. The talk was richly illustrated by some excellent photography and some well-prepared maps of the region. It was a most absorbing and fascinating morning.

GB