Her nephew told how she often worked day and night. “I used to feel so sorry for her”, he said. “I was fourteen then . . . she didn’t have time to do her work. She would rush in, grab something to eat and be off again to help someone. It must have been a terrible life for her.”
Dr. Higbee seemed to thrive on the hard work. She assisted at scores of childbirths, bringing many of the pioneers’ children into the world.
“There were so many accidents – a lot of them really bad – in those days,” her nephew said. “Axe cuts and accidents with horses [were common]. She was kept terribly busy.”
Mr. Higbee taught in several rural schools and homesteaded while Dr. Higbee worked among the pioneers and Cree families in the area.
There was only a collection of rude shacks at “Prairie City” when she practiced. Her office was another such shack, from which she slogged through mosquito infested sloughs or bundled against paralyzing cold to beat the stork to lonely isolated cabins or Indian teepees. Her patients were often inexperienced homesteaders who were careless with an axe or trappers dying of pneumonia or gangrenous from frostbite. She pulled teeth, set broken bones, and taught Indian girls how to feed Indian babies who had rickets.
When the Higbees left for the East, Dr. Annie went on the staff of Toronto Western Hospital, and later into private practice.
In 1956 she was honored as the oldest woman graduate doctor in Canada and the oldest living surgeon on the hospital’s early staff. Later she unveiled a commemorative plaque for her brother, George Carbeth, one of the founders of the great hospital. Doubtless she remembered helping to lay the cornerstone of the Presbyterian Hospital in Grande Prairie in July 1913 along with Nurse Baird and Mrs. Forbes, wife of the Presbyterian minister. Dr. Higbee lived to be one hundred years old!