15 August

First Medical College, Toronto

Medical College Granted Charter at Kingston

When the American Revolutionary War ended, Canada benefited from an influx of 50,000 United Empire Loyalists. They changed the entire complexion of the British North American colonies, especially Upper Canada.

The newcomers faced severe problems. They also created problems for the communities in which they settled. A rapidly increasing population made it necessary to provide streets, schools and other public services.

There was a great shortage of doctors. As late as 1815, there were only forty qualified medical men in Upper Canada! The result was that there were a great many hucksters touring the countryside, selling "wonder medicines" from wagons. They were colourful and entertaining, but their drugs were often little more than coloured water, with perhaps some  unpleasant flavouring to make them seem effective.

Sometimes the hucksters would bring an entertainment troupe with them and put on shows. During each performance, there was a pause while the huckster extolled the virtues of his medicines. Sales were good, but the few medical men were furious!

In 1838, an editorial in the Toronto Patriot said: "Quacks are an intolerable nuisance in any city where empiricism and radicalism go hand in hand. It is a monstrous grievance that our government should allow the province to swarm with these pestilent vagabonds, every one of whom is a Yankee loafer."

Attempts had been made to regulate the practice of medicine. Dr. John Rolph tried to form a medical school in Toronto in 1824, but became involved in politics. After taking part in the Rebellion of 1837, he had to flee to the United States. He was pardoned in 1843 and returned to Toronto, where he resumed his school. It became part of the University of Toronto in 1887.

The outcry against "quacks" became so great that the legislature passed an act in 1839 incorporating the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Upper Canada. It examined candidates for licenses to practise medicine in the province. In this way the situation was gradually brought under control. On August 15, 1866, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons received a charter at Kingston, Ontario.


15 August

-1534    Cartier began his return to France after his first voyage to Canada.

-1689    Fort Pemequid, near Kennebec, Maine, was attacked by the Abenaki Indians under French leadership.

-1696    Fort. Pemequid surrendered to Iberville and the Indians.

-1766    The first issue of the Nova Scotia Gazette was published.

-1818    Robert Gourlay was tried for sedition.

-1866    Ottawa College became the University of Ottawa.

-1890    A conference of the Church of England at Winnipeg established the union of all synods.

-1955    A ceremony at Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, commemorated the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755.