Doctors in the Villages

It hard to imagine receiving trained medical attention in the early and mid-1800s. However, the 1851 Canada Directory shows a Dr. Flock in Cumminsville, “two miles distant”. It is very interesting to see a listing in the Directory for the village of Cumminsville for that date as it was not officially surveyed until July 2, 1857. There was obviously already significant settlement to warrant Dr. Flock to advertise even though he was located two miles distant.

In 1857/58, the Canada Directory shows a Dr. Freer in Kilbride. In that Directory it is interesting to note that at that same time, there were now two doctors in Cumminsville. The first was Dr. Dench. The second was Dr. William Freeman.

The Milton Canadian Champion printed an advertisement On October 19, 1865 for a Dr. T. White who ‘commenced’ a practice in Kilbride. This practice was located next door to the T. L. White Store. Information provided by a descendant of T. L. White confirms that there was no familial relationship between the men. Dr. White was well trained having attended the University of Toronto and practiced with a Dr. Atkins in that city. It is not know how long he practiced in the village.

In the 1869 Province of Ontario Gazetteer & Directory shows Cumminsville now being tended to by Dr. William McGregor. Dr. McGregor remained in Cumminsville at least until 1871 when he appears in the Census in Nelson Township. He is married to Sophia and has a son, aged 6.

In the 1869 Halton County Directory & Gazetteer, Dr. Beattie is listed as having his practice in Kilbride, next door to the hotel. An advertisement in the Canadian Champion indicated that he was a Queen graduate, a physician, surgeon and accoucheur. An accoucheur was one who assisted in births, in effect an obstetrician. He had his residence and office at the Fountain Hotel. No doubt this was to establish his practice and then search for a permanent location. That location was virtually across the street on the north side of Thomas Street. It is that building that is now housed at Westfield Heritage Village. Dr. Beattie left the village about 1880.

In the Polk Gazetteer of 1886, Dr. A. C. Jones is listed as the physician in Kilbride. He was rumoured to have been the physician for about 35 years.

Physicians who practiced in the Lowville area have been difficult to find. In 1872, the Milton Canadian Champion printed an obituary for a Dr. George Dice. Unfortunately he passed away at the young age of 31. He was born near Lowville, his early education was in Milton and he received his medical degree from McGill. He practiced in Erin Village, Milton and lastly in Lowville. The obituary is interesting to note who his ‘brother practitioners’ were. Kilbride’s Dr. Beattie was one.

In both the 1892 and 1895 Province of Ontario Gazetteers, Dr. George Carbert is listed as a physician. It would seem that here were two physicians in Kilbride. It could very likely be the case that one lived and serviced the residents in the Cumminsville area. Cumminsville was in decline at that time because of the 1884 explosion at the Powder Mills. He may have chosen to advertize his practice under Kilbride. It could also have been the case that there were sufficient patients for two physicians.

It wasn’t until 1923 the Dr. Hugh Reid McDonald came to the village to practice medicine. He served as the area’s physician until his death in 1974. During his time in Kilbride, there was some controversy as a physician hired to cover for Dr. McDonald’s vacation time, turned out to be in fact an imposter. Since Dr. McDonald’s death, there has been no practicing physician in the Village.

Contributing Author: Helen Callaway