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Dorothea Snook: The Northam Years

‘The doctors are out to get Mrs Snook!’

  • Patricia Blundell of East Fremantle, ‘The West Australian’, May 26, 1990.

 

In late 1983, aged seventy, Dorothy (known publicly as Dorothea) Snook moved with her daughter Barbara to Peppertree House on a 24-acre property in an area known as Doctor’s Hill in Northam, the town where she had been born, and close by to where she spent her childhood on her family’s farm in Koorda.

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Dr Alice Caporn. Alkaline diet raw food naturopath who tried to introduce wholemeal bread into Perth

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In 1939, Dr Alice Caporn was aged 65 and living in Perth. She lived for some time in the United States where she trained and developed her dietary theory.

I came across Alice Caporn while writing “Mrs Snook’s Diet”, the biography Dorothea Snook, a well-known Perth naturopath. Alice Caporn was Mrs Snook’s mentor and Mrs Snook trained in her Caporn method of exercises and followed a vintage-style diet aligned with the alkaline dietary principles of achieving the correct acid and alkaline balance in the body for optimum health.

Dr Alice Caporn, a former Coolgardie nurse, found opportunity in the United States and lived there for a number of years, where she obtained four degrees, including a Doctor of Philosophy also degrees in biology, helio-therapy and physical culture. When she returned to Australia to settle in Perth in 1938, Dr Caporn applied for a license to sell the city’s first ever loaf of wholemeal bread Perth, her linseed loaf. She sent a freshly baked loaf to the Western Australian Commissioner of Public Health, Dr Atkinson, who pointedly ignored by it (as he did Dr Caporn’s earlier letter of introduction).

On October 1, 1939, Perth’s ‘The Sunday Times’ reported:
“The efforts of local food faddist “Dr.” Alice Caporn to place a new fancy bread upon the market in Perth have failed. Alice Caporn sought permission from the Health authorities to make a kind of linseed loaf. According to the formula submitted, the bread would comprise mainly crushed linseed and wholemeal.… But after the Government Analyst (Dr. Simpson) and other authorities had considered the matter, Alice Caporn’s application to make a linseed loaf was rejected.”

Alice Caporn was outspoken on whatever issue she felt strongly about, particularly diet. In an age before computers and television, she wrote many letters to the editor an a range of subjects, from Aboriginal rights, cruelty to animals, and offered her thoughts on how men should dress appropriately for the Australian climate. She was very pro-the United States in an era when the former Australian colony’s focus was the motherland, Great Britain.

Alice M Caporn was a registered nurse, who married and went to live in the United States for a number of years. She returned, aged in her sixties, to live in Perth with relatives and ran a naturopathy practice in Nedlands. She married again when aged in her seventies.

Dr Alice Caporn was trained as a Naturopath in the early 1900s when the naturopathy profession was founded by German doctor Benedict Lust. Dr Caporn (and Mrs Snook) advocated a vegetable and juice raw food diet – no meat, dairy, limited grains. If you know anything of Dr Caporn (or Mrs Snook). I would love to hear from you. My email is margaret@margaretpuls.com.au

(Pic of Alice Caporn: The Sunday Times, Perth)