Renova Cottage, Sherbrooke Village
Renova Cottage was built in the 1850’s for John Cumminger (1827-1892), who then sold it to his brother, Samuel (1838-1879), in 1871. In 1905, the house was sold to Dr. Lambert Densmore (1878-1968), who lived there with his family until 1919.
Dr. Densmore was born in Maitland, Nova Scotia, on March 26, 1878. He trained to be a physician at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, graduating in 1901. He also attended Dalhousie University in Halifax. He came to Sherbrooke with some friends who were in the lumber business and was asked to set up a medical practice. There he met and married Mary Jean Murdock, daughter of Captain William J. and Catherine Ann (McLean) Murdock. Together they had two daughters, Grace and Katherine.
Dr. Densmore adapted Renova Cottage to incorporate a medical office and dispensary. He added an external door to his office, so people could enter directly from street. His office had a desk and a cabinet for medical instruments, and in the dispensary was a white metal chair, used for everything from setting broken limbs to pulling teeth. The kitchen was at the back of the home, which is where Dr. Densmore sterilized his instruments, pumping water by hand from a cistern in the basement and then boiling it on the stove. In addition to the kitchen and office, the main floor had a sitting room with a fireplace and dining room. Upstairs was the master bedroom, a change room, nursery, and girl’s bedroom. At the back were the maid’s quarters with stairs leading down to the kitchen. The Densmores employed a maid named Rhoda Rudolph from Liscomb.
Dr. Densmore’s practice was not limited to his home. He visited patients in a twenty-mile radius from Sherbrooke, travelling in winter by a team of horses pulling a buggy, and in summertime, on a cutter (sleigh). He always carried three bags – surgical, obstetrics, and prescription, which was stocked with medicines. People would know what day the doctor was coming to their area and would signal need for his services by hanging a flag on their gate in the daytime or a lamp at night. If someone needed an operation, it was done in their home. Dr. Densmore would have used the barter system, cash, or credit for his fees.
Dr. Densmore loved horses and raced on ice as well as the racetrack. He also raised peacocks. In 1915, Dr. Densmore enlisted in the army and received the Military Cross. When he came home to Sherbrooke, he only practiced for a few years before moving the family to Bathurst, New Brunswick. There Dr. Densmore lived until 1968 when he died at 90 years of age.