Ella Birzneck was born in Libau, Latvia in 1909. She was raised by her maternal grandmother until age 14 when she immigrated to Canada. Her grandmother, a mid-wife, Herbalist and “bonesetter”, introduced Ella to Herbalism at an early pre-school age. Additional training in Herbalism was received from her uncle, a professor in Botanical Medicine, who owned and operated several botanical pharmacies in her native Latvia. Sorting herbs, preparing tinctures and mixing salves was a Saturday and holiday occupation much enjoyed by Ella as a youngster.
In Canada, Ella received her High School and Business College education in Manitoba where she spent 10 years on a homestead 85 miles from the nearest hospital. Food and medications were all grown on the farm. All four of the Birzneck children got their start on the farm – no phones, no running water, lots of fresh air and natural food.
In 1942, Ella was injured in an auto accident which later resulted in her resuming her interest in Herbalism and other natural methods of healing to help improve her own health as well as that of her husband who suffered a severe head injury in a construction accident.
Ella Birzneck’s education included: The College of Swedish Massage, Chicago, Illinois; Palmer School of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa; Dr. Paul Wendell’s Soft Tissue Technique; Dr. Just, OD, Dietary Therapy (Interned), Winnipeg, Manitoba and Dr. Herbert Nowell’s Dominion Herbal College Diploma Program, Vancouver, British Columbia. Ella interned for one year with Dr. Nowell and graduated in 1953.
In 1962, Ella Birzneck became President and Instructor of Advanced Herbal Therapeutics and Clinical practice at Dominion Herbal College. She was also co-founder of the Canadian Health Food Association and the Canadian Herbalist Association of British Columbia. She was in private clinical practice for over 40 years. As an innovative pioneer in complementary health therapies, she combined many natural healing modalities such as diet, vitamins, massage, chiropractic, physiotherapy, contact healing, reflexology, iridology and colon therapy with the main emphasis on herbal therapy.
Ella’s dedication and inspiration will live on through the lives of Dominion Herbal College graduates and her family who continue to work and teach in the alternative health field.