A 19th Century Apothecary

Okay, Amy. What's been happening these past few days. I get anxious just thinking about what's going on with you back in the 19th century, where as we all know, you've had a bit of trouble adjusting ... well, at least until recently.


And you still haven't told me which fellow you've decided to end up with - Sam or Barker - you know, the one with the money, or the one who's a simple brewer? Which one, Amy? Neither of them? Both of them???  *shudder*

Yeah, that. I'll get back to ya in a minute 'bout that.
All you gotta do is realize that I'm doin' good.
I can take totally take care of myself.
Isn't that what you wanted when ya stuck me in the 19th century?

For heaven's sake, Amy. Just tell me what's been happening. Why do you have to make this so difficult?

Just give me a sec, will ya? I gotta get away from Charlotte and her crazy brother. He came to the mansion yesterday to make sure Charlotte is doing okay ... now that she's preggers and everything ... but he's, like, totally boring. He just sits there lookin' at her. Bleh!

I told ya that me and Charlotte went into town the other day 'cause she's been craving candy, so  maybe that's what you wanna hear about.

Sooo, turns out she wanted some other stuff too 'cause she hasn't been feeling well, 'cause she's pregnant and everything, so she was lookin' for something called "laudanum" to get from a drugstore kinda place called an apothecary on the main street.


What?? Please tell her not to take this during her pregnancy! Even though Laudanum is a commonly used medication in the 19th century, it's actually derived from opium, alcohol and spices - not something a young woman who is pregnant should be drinking. Tell her! Hopefully she'll believe you. 


The Niagara Apothecary, a pharmacy museum, is located on Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada.

Nearly 100,00 visitors enter beyond the arched glazed double doors every year; a glorious experience of stepping back in time.


First opened in 1820, and operating under six owners across a time span of over 150 years, The Niagara Apothecary is one of the oldest pharmacies in Canada, meticulously restored in 1971 to the 1869 opening of this building. It's a perfect example of attention-to-detail, high-style, mid-Victorian architecture and the talent of wood carvers and craftsmen.

Show globes (vessels containing coloured liquid) are situated in the windows, just as in the past, when they advised those seeking medical assistance that this was the place to come. At night, these globes, normally in colours of red and green, were lit from behind - a welcome symbol of the Apothecary to the sick.


Artifacts such as bottles imported during the first half of the 19th century are striking in one's awareness of their history. The larger of the bottles, each containing oils for instance, are not identical, they were created by glass blowers.

The glazed white container, the "Leech Jar" (far right), is of interest to everyone. 
Attached to the skin, leeches were a common treatment in the 19th century, but also made a comeback in the 1970s as a treatment in microsurgery.

Until 1964, these scales were in use in the Niagara Apothecary, specifically to weigh greater quantities than what was required for the weighing of prescription medications.

Jim Dunsdon

Jim Dunsdon

Many thanks go to Jim Dunsdon, retired pharmacist; former Registrar, Ontario College of Pharmacists, which operates the Apothecary in partnership with the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Memorial Bell Tower -Niagara-on-the-Lake

Memorial Bell Tower -Niagara-on-the-Lake