William Canniff.

The medical profession in Upper Canada, 1783-1850. An historical narrative, with original documents relating to the profession, including some brief biographies online

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Online LibraryWilliam CanniffThe medical profession in Upper Canada, 1783-1850. An historical narrative, with original documents relating to the profession, including some brief biographies → online text (page 1 of 60)
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ns — October —
Applications — Purchase of Medical Works — November — Examinations
— New Members — Collector for the CoUege^William Higgins — Medical
Education — Petitions to the Legislature — December— Grant to To-
ronto Hospital — January, 1840— Letter from Governor — Reappoint-
ment of Officers — Committee of Finance — Inspector of Apothecaries —
Letter from Sir James MacGregor — Honourable Fellows- Sir John
Webb, K.C. B. , Director-General — Examinations 132


February, 1840 — Quarterly Meeting — New Fellows — Applications — Dr.
Thomas Rolph, Agent of the College in England — March — Special
Meeting — Arrival of Books — April — Commissioners of Lunatic Asylum
— Opinion of College asked in regard to Sites — Committee Appointed
• — Report of Committee — May — New Members — Communication to
President — Despatch from England — Act of Incorporation of College
Disallowed^Governor-General Interviewed— Memorial from the Col-
lege — The Library — June — Letter from Governor-General — Lunatic
Asylum to be at Kingston— Memorial to have Asylum at Toronto —
Study of Mental Diseases for Students 141


August, 1840— Quarterly Meeting— Applications for License— Committee
to Consider the Disallowance Question — Delay in Establishing Medical
School— Letter from Sir John Webb— Report of Committee on Dis-
allowance—Royal College of Surgeons, London— Review of the Ques-
tions — Arguments against Disallowance — Summary of Colonial Acts —
Copy of Report sent to Governor — Fellows wait on His Excellency . 150




November, 1840— Quarterly Meeting— Xames of Qualified Practitioners
Published — New Fellows —Honourable Fellows — Applicants — King-
ston Hospital — January, 1841 — Letter from Lieutenant-Oovernor —
Despatch from Secretary of State — Members — Royal College of Sur-
geons, Londoa — Right to Practise in all parts of Her ^lajesty's Pro-
vinces — Act of Incorporation of College of Physicians and Surgeons of
Upper Canada Cannot be Allowed — Officers Re-elected — Examination
— Licenses — Official Documents and Papers of the College to the
Medical Board — Library Committee — Library Entrusted to Secretary
(1844) — Delivered to Medico-Chirurgical Society — Conclusion of Col-
lege of Physicians and Surgeons of Upper Canada .... 160


July, 1841 — Upper Canada Medical Board Revived — Commission — The
Board — ^Letter from Dr. O'Brien — Resignation — Geo. Givens, .Secretary
— Letter to Dr. O'Brien — Delivery of Records — College of Physicians
and Surgeons of Upper Canada — Subjects of Examination allotted to
Members — Second Letter from Dr. O'Brien — Board Not Legally Con-
stituted— Lieutenant-(Tovernor declares it is — But New Commissions
are issued — Candidates for License — October — Dr. Widmer, President. 166


January, 1842 — Examiners Named — No Candidates — January 15 — .Special
Meeting — Memorial to Governor-Gener.tl, as Chancellor of King's Col-
lege — Medical Students Abroad for Instruction — Royal Endowment —
Faculty of Medicine Urged — Governor's Reply — April — Candidates —
July — Secretary Givens Resigns — Edwin Henwood Appointed— Can-
didate — October — Candidates — Letter from Dr. De La Hooke — Mor-
gan J. Hamilton^A Serious Charge — Letter from Governor's Secretary
— Letters from University of Edinburgh — Letter from Medical Board
— Letter from Secretary Harrison — January, April, July and October,
1843— Candidates 174


First Medical School in Upper Canada — Medical Department, King's Col-
lege — Council Meeting, September 25, 1843— Committee for Establish-
ing Medical School — October 4 — Report .Submitted and Adopted —
Branches of Study — Hospital Facilities Needed — Requirements for
Final Examination — Duration of Sessions — Parlixment Buildings to be
Used — -Salaries — November 29 — Warrants Granting Professorships —
The Faculty — Report of Faculty— Inaugural Lectures — Commence-
ment, January 15, 1844 — " Subjects " — Place of Lectures — Dissecting
Room Built — The Cost — Letter from Dr. Widmer — Oflfer of Upper
Flat of Hospital— The Conditions Not Acceptable — Two Classes of
Students — A Short Session — Medical Appliances — I^ist of Professors
in all the Departments — First Graduates in Medicine — Fanti Acadetnici
— King's College — Act of Parliament — King's College becomes Uni-
versity of Toronto, 1850 183


January, April and July, 1844 — Candidates — October — Candidates — Gov-
ernment asked to give List of Licentiates — January and April, 1845 —
Candidates — July — New Commission — Candidates — October — Candi-
dates — Clean Sweep — January, 1846— Candidates — April — ^Candidates
— License Illegally Obtained — Letter to Provincial Secretary — Govern-
ment Imposed Upon — Petitions to Legislature — Medical Bill — July —
Ciindidates — October — Committee oq Medical Profession . . .190




January and April, 1847 — Candidates — Correspondence with Medical
Board of Lower Canada — Uniform System of Examination — Montreal
Board Acquiesces — Montreal Licentiates — July and October — Candi-
dates—November 16 — Special Meeting — Letter in Globe — Serious
Charge Against a Member of Board — Letter from Board to Editor —
Name of Writer Demanded — Reply— Letter from Board to Dr. Hunter
— Reply — Defends Himself and Reiterates Charge — Letter to Provin-
cial Secretary — Steps to Vindicate Board — Referred to Attorney-
General ............. 196


January, 1848 — Candidates— April — Candidates — Wait on Attorney-Gen-
eral — Result — July — Secretary Resigns — Edward Clarke, HouseSur-
geon, Appointed — Letter from Attorney-General — Candidates — Janu-
ary, April, July and October, 1849 — Candidates — Duration of Board . 203


1850 — Establishment of Trinity Medical School — Bishop Strachan in Eng-
land — Dr. Melville's Book — Drs. Hodder and Bovell — " Upper Canada
School of Medicine " — Becomes Medical Faculty of Trinity University
— Inauguration — Introductory Lecture — Bishop Strachan's Address
— Medical Lectures — Church Newspaper — Remarks — Rules for Stu-
dents — Rules for Examination for M.B. — Fees — Degree of M.D.— ^
Officers of the College^Lists of Subjects and Professors — Benefactors
to Trinity College — List of Students — First Course .... 206


Medical Profession in Toronto, 1850 — Officers of Lunatic Asylum — The
Medical Board — The Practitioners in Toronto — General Hospital— Eye
Infirmary — General Dispensary — Lying-in Hospital — House of Indus-
try — 71st Light Infantry — Medical Faculty, University of Toronto —
Coroner — Patients in General Hospital — Cooksville — Springfield —
Streetsville — Township of Whitby — Clarke Gamble's Estimate of
Medical Profession and General Hospital — Conclusion of Second Part 213

part: III.

Biographical Sketches, alphabetically arranged 217









CANADA had become a Briti.sh pos.session by the conquest
of General Wolfe in 1759. In 1763, a royal proclamation
was issued declaring the limits of the Province to include
a portion of territory westward, which now forms part of
Ontario. In 1774, the British Parliament passed an Act by
which the limits were still further extended, including all of
the territory now forming the Province, as well as certain parts
now forming part of the United States.

In 1776, the thirteen British colonies in America raised the
standard of revolt, and in 1783, after a bloody struggle, their
independence was acknowledged by the British Government.
The American rebellion had become a revolution. At the same
time a very large number of British-Americans who would not
join the rebels had become destitute wanderers and outcasts
from their homes, while their property was confiscated. Ten
thousand of these found an asylum in Canada. During the war
some refugees had escaped to the Niagara frontier, and clustered
around Fort Niagara. Likewise a few were refugees at Detroit
and at Carlton Island, near Fort Frontenac, now Kingston.
But the majority at first entered Lower Canada, and awaited

10 The Medical Profession in

the allotment of land in Upper Canada after the survey had
been made. Up to this time the territory which now forms
the Province of Ontario was a dense wilderness. The survey
began in 1783, and the settlement by the Loyalists in the
following year.

The medical men who gave professional attendance to the
English-speaking people living in Canada after the conquest,
were at first mostly, if not altogether, British surgeons attached
to the army or navy. As the number of English in the
Province increased, the doctors connected with the service could
not give the medical attention required. Some surgeons retired
from the service and engaged in civil practice ; and a few came
from the Old Country to settle as private practitioners. The
stamp of Englishmen who thus first practised medicine in
Canada was as good as British medical education could at
that time produce. That they were not wanting in knowledge,
and a desire to introduce the latest discoveries in medicine.'^is
suflSciently attested. One instance of this may be given. The
Quebec Gazette, Sept., 1768, contains the following reference to
the inoculation of small-pox, which was then receiving in
England a good deal of attention :

" To the Inhabitants of Quebec.
" Mr. Latham, surgeon to the King's (or Eighth) Regiment of
Foot, acquaints the inhabitants of Quebec that before he left
England he entered into partnership with Mr. Sutton for
inoculation. The great success, and the many thousands Mr.
Sutton has inoculated by his invention and new method,
induced Mr. Latham to become his partner, in order that he
may be of some use to mankind in this part of the world. Mr.
Latham, some days ago, inoculated some soldiers belonging to
the regiment to which he has the honour to be surgeon! by
which means he has procured sufficient infection for those who
chuse to be inoculated. All poor persons, who are not able to
pay, and who are desirous of being inoculated, may apply to
Mr. Latham, who will inoculate, attend, and give them medicine
gratis. Mr. Latham practises midwifery. He is to be spoken
to at his house, upon the Battery, Upper Town." On the 3rd
of November following, Dr. Latham announced " that as there

Upper Canada, 1768-97. 11

may be some individuals willing to be inoculated and who are
cautious concerning the quality of infection, that he designs to
inoculate in a few days one of his daughters, a child between
two and three years old."

Strangely enough, nearly thirty years later the following
reference to the practice of inoculation appeared in a paper
published at Newark, Upper Canada :

" As the inoculation for the small-pox is this day commenced
at Queenston, and the season of the year very favourable, the
subscribers propose inoculating immediately in the town of
Newark, and throughout the county of Lincoln, on the most
reasonable terms. The poor inoculated gratis.

" Robert Kerr,
" James Muirhead.

" Newark, Jan. 2.5th, 1797."

The Journal of Feb. 1st, 1797, editorially says:
" We learn from every settlement the determination of a
general inoculation for the small-pox. This resolution is highly
commended by persons of prudence. This country being young,
and growing more exposed to that disorder, a general inocula-
tion every one or two years will forever render its prevalence
in any way of very little concern, there being then none, or but
few, excepting young children, to be affected by it. This season
of the year is highly favourable to it ; to defer it until warm
weather, or summer, is highly dangerous. The blood is in a
state then easily to become putrid, fever may set in with it, a'nd
beside these, ... to place it in the most favourable situa-
tion, . . . must sustain infinite injury. To enact a law
to enforce a general inoculation looks arbitrary ; but the writer
of this, who can in no wise be interested by himself nor friends,
is of opinion that such a law in any country, more particular!}-
in a new one, would operate to tJhe greatest possible benefit of
the country, and justiBable on the principles of public and
private good. But a so beneficial law he expects never to see
.so long as there remains a blindness in so many to their own
safety and welfare, and a delicacy in our rulers to compel a
man to throw off old prejudices and to do those things that
are taught by the simple and natural laws of self-defence."

12 ■ The Medical Profession in

While disbanded soldiers formed a portion of the first settlers
of Upper Canada, there was a larger portion of non-combatant
United Empire Loyalists who entered the wilds of Upper Canada.
But among them was found no qualified medical man. Not
that there were no physicians among those who adhered to
the Crown in the rebellious States. On the contrary, as with
the other learned professions, the cream of the medical men in
the several revolting colonies remained loyal to the British
flag. Sabine, a writer of the United States, in his work on the
" Loyalists of the American Revolution," says :

" The physicians who adhered to the Crown were numerous,
and the proportion of Whigs (rebels) in the profession of
medicine was less, probably, than in either that of law or the-
ology. But unlike persons of the latter callings, most of the
physicians remained in the country and quietly pursued their
business. There seems to have been an understanding that
though pulpits should be closed and litigation be suspended,
the sick should not be deprived of their regular and freely
chosen medical attendants. I have been surprised to find,
from verbal communication and various other sources, that
while the ' Tory doctors ' were as zealous and as fearless in the
expression of their sentiments as the ' Tory ministers ' and
' Tory barristers,' their persons and property were generally
respected in the towns and villages, where little or no regard
was paid to the bodies and estates of gentlemen of the robe and
the surplice." This may have been due to " the exigencies of
the ladies."

" A few of the Loyalist physicians were banished ; others,
and those chiefly who became surgeons in the army or pro-
vincial corps, settled in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, where
they resumed practice."

From this it may be understood that the advent of the U. E.
Loyalist settlers to Upper Canada in 1784, and for many years
after, was attended with a want of medical aid. The number
of settlers on the Niagara is uncertain; but being in close
proximity to the garrison they could more readily obtain the
services of the surgeon stationed there. At the eastern part of
Upper Canada, we learn from the Haldimand Collection at
Ottawa, the exact number of settlers. In a return signed by

Upper Canada, 1784-88. 13

Sir John Johnson, " of men, women and children settled on the
new townships, St. Lawrence River and Cataraqui and Bay of
Quinte," it is stated there were "1,568 men, 626 women, 1,492
children, and 90 servants," the total being 3,776.

The first settlements in Upper Canada were made under
military order. There was no civil law until 1788, when
Western Canada was divided into four districts, namely,
Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nassau and Hesse, and to each
district was appointed a judge, sheriff, and other necessary
oflBcers for civil government.

As we have seen, the provision for medical and surgical
relief of these exiles was of the most scanty kind. At
Kingston, Niagara and Detroit were garrisons with a limited
number of soldiers and one or two surgeons. For many
years, the pioneers were dependent upon these army surgeons,
who were rarely willing to go any distance from the garrison.
Some of the settlements were made by disbanded soldiers, and
those who settled along the St. Lawrence had as fellow-pioneers
a few surgeons who had been attached to their respective corps,
and continued to enjoy their medical services. These surgeons
were numbered among the U. E. Loyalists, and were on what is
called the " U E. List." As the meaning of this term is not
generally understood, the following is inserted :

At the Council Chamber at Quebec,

Monday, 9th November, 1789.

present :
His Excellency the Right Honourable Lord Dorchester,
The Honourable William Smith, Esquire, Chief Justice,
Hugh Finlay, Esquire, George Powell, Esquire,

Thos. Dunn, Esquire, Henry Caldwell, Esquire,

Edw'd Harrison, Esquire, William Grant, Esquire,
John Collins, Esquire, Francois Baby, Esquire,

Adam Mabane, Escjuire, Chas. DeLanaudiere, Esquire,
J. G. C. Delery, Esquire, Le Cte. Dupre, Esquire.

" His Lordship intimated to the Council that it remained a
question, upon the late regulation for the disposition of the

14 The Medical Profession in

waste lands of the Crown, whether the Boards constituted for
that purpose were authorized to make locations to the sons of
Loyalists on their coming to full ajje, and that it was his wish
to put a marke of honour upon the families who had adhered
to the unity of the empire and joined the royal standard in
America before the Treaty of Separation in the year 1783.

" The Council concurring with His Lordship, it is accordingly
ordered :

"That the several Land Boards take course for preserving a
registry of the names of all persons falling under the descrip-
tion afore-mentioned, to the end that their posterity may be
discriminated from future settlers, in the parish registers and
rolls of the militia of their respective districts, and other
public remembrancers of the Province, as proper objects, by
their persevering in the fidelity and conduct so honourable to
their ancestors, for distinguished benefits and privileges.

" And it is also ordered, that the said Land Boards may, in
every such case, provide not only for the .sons of those
Loyalists, as they arrive to full age, but for their daughters
also of that age, or on their marriasje, assigning^ to each a lot of
two hundred acres, more or less ; provided, nevertheless, that
they respectively comply with the general regulations, and that
it shall satisfactorily appear that there has been no default in
the due cultivation and improvement of the lands already
assigned to the head of the family of which they are members.

" (Signed), J. Williams, C. C."

It may be mentioned that Adam Mabane was a surgeon, and
liad been in charge of the Quebec Garrison Hospital. In the
Haldimand Collection is found ample evidence that he occupied
a conspicuous place in the government of the country at that

Those whose names are found in the " U. E. List " are pro-
perly regarded as the fathers of Upper Canada. Among them the
following were evidently medical men ; but as surgeons at that
time were rarely designated as doctor, not unlikely there were
others who were not recognized as doctors or surgeons :

Solomon Jones, Eastern District, Surgeon's Mate, Loyal

Upper Canada, 1788. 15

Dr. Sparham, Eastern District, Hospital Mate reduced, had
served in war of 1763. Provision List, 1786.

James Stuart, Eastern District, S. G. Sur^^^eon's Mate, Royal
Rangers, New York. Provision List 2nd, 1786.

James Walker, Eastern District, Augusta, Surgeon Jessup's
S. G.

Subsequently, after Upper Canada had been erected into a
province, the Executive Council added from time to time other
names to the "U. E. List." Among them were the following
medical men :

Dr. Charles Austin, Surgeon, R. R. N. Y.
Patrick Burk, Surgeon's Mate, Butler's Rangers.
Dr. Charles Blake, Surgeon, 34th Regiment.
David Burns, Surgeon, 71st Regiment.
James Connor, Surgeon, Hospital Mate.
Robert Guthrie, Surgeon, Butler's Rangers.
John De Courcy, Hospital Mate, Canada.
John Gamble, Hospital Mate, last war.
Williams, Surgeon.

James Muirhead, Suryeon's Mate, 60th Reofiment.
James Muirhead, Surgeon, 60th Regiment.
James McAulay (Macaulay), Surgeon's Mate, Queen's Rangers
George Smythe, Surgeon, Loyal Rangers.
Thomas Wrigrht, Surgeon, 1st Battalion, 60th Regiment
Hospital Mate during the war.

Among the non-combatant refugees there were few, if any,
possessing skill in the practice of medicine, and the further the
settlements extended from the garrisons, the greater was the
want of a physician. At first anyone offering his services as a
doctor among the English-speaking people of Canada was able
to show some evidence of qualification from the parent country.
But after a time, in Upper Canada, there came, now and then,
persons from the United States professing to possess medical skill
They came generally, not for attachment to the British flag,
Viut to turn a penny. Sometimes they had a degree of medical
f'llucation which had been acquired in the United States
medical schools ; sometimes they knew a little about the use of
drugs ; but too frequently they only knew how to deceive the

16 The Medical Profession in

people by arrant quackery. This class of doctors, being natives
of the United States, managed to make themselves agreeable to
the U. E. Loyalist settler, who was also generally a native of
America. For many years only a few with qualifications from
British colleges settled in Upper Canada, and only in places
where there was an aggregation of settlers. As villages were
formed and grew into towns, the number of doubtful prac-
titioners increased, and as a natural result of this state of affairs,
it became necessary to protect the settlers from impostors.

As we have seen, until 1788, the Loyalists who had settled
in Upper Canada lived under martial law. English laws were
in force, and executed by the officers of regiments stationed
in the new settlements. These officers had a general oversight
of the settlers, superintended the granting of lands, and be-
stowed such assistance as was practicable, by supplying them
with food and implements for their pioneer life. But in the
year mentioned, when Canada was divided into four districts,
competent courts of Justice were created for each district, and
a judge, sheriff, and other necessary civil officers appointed.



THE first step toward regulating the practice of medicine in
Canada after the conquest was taken in 1788. The
following is taken from a copy of old statutes in the Toronto
Public Library, " A collection of the Acts passed in the
parliament of Great Britain and of other public Acts relative
to Canada." Printed at Quebec, 1800 (Robert Armour, jun.,
was the former owner of this volume. It is now owned by the
Public Library) :

" An Act or ordinance to prevent persons practising physic
and surgery within the Province of Quebec, or midwifery in
the towns of Quebec and Montreal, without license." (It will be
remembered that Upper Canada was yet a portion of the
Province of Quebec.)

" Whereas many inconveniences have arisen to His Majesty's

Upper Canada, 1788. 17

subjects in this province from unskilful persons practising-
physics and surgery ; be it enacted by His Excellency the
Governor and the Legislative Council, that after the first day of
November next, no person whatsoever shall on any pretence sell,
vend, or distribute medicines by retail, or prescribe for sick per-
sons for gain, or practise physic or surgery within the Province,
or practise midwifery in the towns of Quebec and Montreal, or
the suburbs thereof, without license first had and obtained from
His Excellency the Governor, or the Commander-in-chief of the
Province, for the time being, which license shall not be granted
but upon certificate of the person applying for the same, having
been examined and approved by such persons as the Governor
or Commander-in-chief, for the time being, may have appointed
for the purpose of examining and inquiring into the knowledge
of such persons in physic, or skill in surgery, or pharmacy, or
midwifery, a copy of which certificate is to be annexed to the

Online LibraryWilliam CanniffThe medical profession in Upper Canada, 1783-1850. An historical narrative, with original documents relating to the profession, including some brief biographies → online text (page 1 of 60)