I recently found these articles, which I wrote for my Down Memory Lane column in the Middleton paper, back around the turn of the century.

Life Of Man
by Jo Leath

Phytotherapy is a new word for a very old concept. Herbal medicines have been a part of civilization since the beginning. In the Middleton region, “Life of Man Bitters” was a medication made from all natural ingredients, which was, for a time, a successful industry.
According to the story, in 1840 an old French physician, homeward bound for France, visited the home of Oldham Gates, on Gates Mountain. Finding Mrs. Eleanor Gates, bedridden and seriously ill, he said he believed he could help her. He went into the surrounding woods and gathered the necessary roots and herbs, which he compounded into a medicine which then cured Mrs. Gates.
Before leaving Gates Mountain, the physician took Caleb Gates, son of the house, into the woods and showed him the proper roots, herbs, and bark to gather. He gave Eleanor Gates the recipe for the medicine she had been given, along with several others.
Mrs. Gates was so grateful for the beneficial results of the mixture, that until 1865 she gave it away freely to anyone who asked. Demand being great, in 1865 Caleb started advertizing, and the family developed the preparation of the recipe into a business which was handed down through the generations. They called the mixture “Life of Man Bitters.”
In 1877, the medicines were copyrighted, and in 1884 sample of Life of man Bitters were sent to the Antwerp exhibition where they received very favourable notice. 
In 1866 the bitters won international recognition at the Colonial Exposition in London
and in 1891 a certificate of recognition at an International event in Jamaica.
Upon the death of Caleb Gates in 1887, his son Andreas B. Gates, who was already totally instructed in the laboratory work, succeeded to the business, under his management the business flourished 1902 a new factory was built in Middleton. At that time it was renamed C. Gates, Son & Co. Middleton.
Over the years, the company marketed all seven recipes imparted by the French doctor. The product line included Life of Man Bitters; Invigorating Syrup; Certain Check; Acadian Liniment; Little Gem Pills; Nerve Ointment; Eye Relief; and Vegetable Plaster. Gates, Son & Co. also purchased the Empire Liniment company in Bridgetown and took over manufacturing of that product.
A. B. Gates, who was in his 80s during the 1940s was known as Middleton’s Medicine Man. He is quoted as saying “Mere babies can take it and it will pull them up in great shape. There’s nothing harmful in it. It’s all beneficial.” In fact, Life Of Man Bitters was made with juniper berries, which are a diuretic, valuable in kidney problems and conditions of the liver and urinary tract. The bitters also contained Balm of Gilead , which promotes perspiration, and relieves fever and flatulence; dandelion root, a mild laxative, and yellow dock root, which has antiseptic and astringent properties.
A. B. was a living testament to the benefits of the secret concoction, and all through the valley people sang his praises. He was a man who spent his life curing illness and pain without any medical education. His customers were scattered all over the province, and even the British West Indies. They wrote to testify that “Life of Man Bitters” had resulted in amazing cures of bilious attacks, constipation, dyspepsia, headaches, indigestion, rheumatism, sea sickness, and a wide variety of other ailments.
Andreas was not sick a day in his life, he slept well at night, put in a full day of work rising at 7 in the morning and retiring at 10 o’clock at night. His was the oldest industry in Middleton and he numbered among the town’s most respected citizens. He continued with the business until his death in 1944.

More Life of Man
by Jo Leath

Since August of 1999, a long-term temporary exhibit of Gates’ Medication has been on display at the MacDonald Museum in Middleton. Michael Fairn, who has an abiding interest in the Gates’ family business, as well as a remarkable collection of their bottles, has generously shared his collection with museum patrons.
While the bottles are beautiful examples of the glass-making trade at the time, the bottles alone do not tell the whole story. During the years of production of Life of Man Bitters, there was no law requiring a listing of ingredients. Thanks to Mr. Fairn’s research, we do know what the Gates’ products contained. In the late 1800s, the percentage of alcohol in patent medicines was as high as 59.1, and Life of Man Bitters was no exception. The Invigorating Syrup was sarsaparilla, which is a blood fortifier. The Nerve Ointment was a blend of camphor and Balm of Gilead. Little Gem Pills were made with Hyoscyamus, which is known to have a sedative effect. Certain Check was a cure for dysentery. It contained morphine, which can and does cause constipation. 
The medications were effective; the success of the business affirms that. At one time there were several salesmen traveling the province in horse-drawn Medicine Wagons, selling Gates’ products. Customers were not hard to find. The company advertised in local newspapers, and promoted their products in pamphlets inside the packaging.
In a 1906 advertisement the company declares: “When the conditions of confinement of the winter are over, and the activities of Spring are renewed, something is necessary to remove the impurities which have been accumulating in the system. On this account, nearly everyone takes a few doses of a spring medicine. Nothing can be found superior to Gates’ Life of Man Bitters for this purpose. Composed of the extracted active principles of many native roots and herbs it is admirably adapted to perform these functions. Get 2 bottles of bitters and one of Invigorating Syrup from your dealer and remove the listlessness and weary feelings due to the poisons accumulated in the system. Sold only by C. Gates, Son & Co. Middleton.
In an undated newspaper advertisement for Life of Man, the copy reads like this:
“A vegetable compound possessing medicinal virtues pleasant to the taste, it can do no harm to the smallest child. It purifies the blood, and acting simultaneously on the liver and kidneys produces the best effects on liver complaint, asthma, billiousness, stomach trouble, preventing rheumatism and is a most useful tonic and builder for men, women and children.
Directions: Take from one to two tablespoons three times a day; early in the morning; at 11 o’clock; and when going to bed. If the patient is weak, commence with a large teaspoonful at a time, and they may not feel as well as they would expect to until the medicine operates freely through the blood and system. Take Gates’ Invigorating Syrup every other night to regulate the bowels, the bitters not to be taken that night. Girls budding into woman hood should be provided with it. # 13021 the Propriety and Patent Medicine Act and none genuine without this signature C. Gates Sons & Co. Middleton N.S. Keep well corked and shake before using.”
After the passage of the new Federal Health Laws in 1918, the Canadian Government limited the sale of bitters, but sales of Life of Man Bitters continued on a bootleg basis. 
In 1949, with the passage of the Patent Medicines Act the company ceased to be viable. Although there are no reports of the exact date, C. Gates Son & Co. seems to have closed its doors in 1950.
MacDonald Museum hours are Monday to Friday, 10.30 a.m.-5 p.m.