Medical Licences issued in Ontario and Quebec
Return to David Crawford's Home Page
Medical Licences issued in Ontario and Quebec
prior to 1867
A-Z listing as a pdf file
The notation (H) means that the licence was issued by the Ontario Homeopathic Board and the notation (E) means it came from the Ontario Eclectic Board.
The file linked to above attempts to list all medical registrations in Ontario and Quebec up to 1867; the (many) previous lists of these men (all were men) are inconsistent, incomplete and are often arranged in eccentric ways. There are certainly people missing or names still misspelled. Corrections and additions will be gratefully received.
ONTARIO: Library and Archives Canada: Licenses, Upper and Lower Canada, Canada East and Canada West and Ontario, 1817-1867. The medical licence index file, for Ontario is on Reel C 3947. Images 480-519. This is a hand-written chronological file of names and dates; it does not contain copies of the actual applications. The index file is first arranged by the initial letter of the surnames and within each letter is in chronological order. Unfortunately the pages for part of the “C” names (and some "L" names) and all those starting with I and O are not reproduced in the microfilm. This was reported to LAC and photocopies of the missing pages were received and the information added to the listing. It is assumed that the microfilm version will be corrected in due course. It appears that this listing is complete up to the end of 1866 but there seem to be fewer listings for 1866 than one would expect.
QUEBEC Library and Archives Canada: Civil Secretary and Provincial Secretary, applications for licences, bonds and certificates. Quebec, Lower Canada and Canada East. The medical licence application files for Quebec are on reels H-1733 (to December 1824) and H-1734 (up to 1848). The applications for medical licences from 1788-1848 are on Pages 1-2082. This is a file of applications (including some that were not approved, and which are not listed in the A-Z file.) It appears that these official files are also not complete as other lists have a few additional names but in this case it seems that the film reproduces the full content of the paper files. For example, the (unsuccessful) application(s) by William Logie - Canada's first medical graduate - are not there. (see: http://www.mcgill.ca/library/files/library/No1092008.pdf )
Names of registrants from 1848-1866 were taken from the lists noted in secondary sources below.
General notes on “NAME”, “PLACE” and “DATE”
It should be noted that the interpretation of the handwritten records and the printed lists (where typos are frequent!) is undoubtedly not perfect. Information on any errors or omissions will be gratefully received. (email@example.com)
To avoid confusion, the terms Quebec and Ontario are used throughout rather than the terms used at the time. These were: Province of Quebec 1763–1791; Upper Canada and Lower Canada 1791–1841 and the Province of Canada divided into Canada West and Canada East from 1841–1867.
The spelling of personal names is, as usual for the time, rather variable and there is particularly wide variation with the Mc, Mac and M’ prefixes (any listed as M’ have been transcribed here as Mc) but the various lists also contain typos and what look like phonetic interpretations and they are certainly not consistent. The list is arranged by what appears to be the correct (or most used) form of the family name with others, excluding obvious typos, listed in (brackets). Many of the printed lists use only initials but where forenames are known from other sources (often, in the case of the Quebec licences, the petition or 'monument' that the applicants sent to the Board) they have been completed. The A-Z listing of Canadian health obituaries at the Osler Library was particularly useful.
The dates are also somewhat confusing as there are actually three possibly ‘correct’ dates. The date of the application, the date it was approved by one of the Medical Boards or the Governor and the date the licence was actually issued. Normally these events occurred in fairly rapid succession and the date given is one of the three possibilities. (Some applications are not dated, some approvals are absent and in many cases the dates are hard to read.) In general the date of approval by the Governor, Board or College is used.
There are, of course, other lists of physicians (see list of secondary sources below) and, as noted above, there is certainly not always agreement between them both as to who is listed and how their name is spelled. In general if a registration is reported in any of these lists it is noted in this A-Z.
It should be remembered that some people did not need to be registered (military physicians); some did not need to pass any additional examinations (some university graduates) and many untrained (and unlicenced) physicians and surgeons continued to practice well into the mid-nineteenth century, particularly in rural areas. Local histories often list 'physicians' - not all were registered. With a very few exceptions, mainly persons listed in Canniff, 'physicians' for whom no licencing information was found are NOT included in the A-Z file.
Several men initially obtained an apothecary or a partial licence and subsequently 'upgraded it' to a full medical one.
Many men registered in both provinces, sometimes almost simultaneously, sometimes after many years.
Lists of Registrations from 1819 to 1847 were printed in the British American Journal of Medical and Physical Science 1848, January v.3:9: p.247-250. Corrections and additions then appeared in: v.3:11, 1848 March: p.314; v.4:2, 1848 June: p.53; v.4:3, 1848 July: p.81-82; v.4:7, 1848 November: p.193; v. 5:2, 1849 June: p.54; v. 5:7, 1849 November: p.194 and v.5:12, 1850 April: p.326.
N.B. The list in v.4:2 gives the names of the 17 men who were registered during the confused years between 1839-1841 following the 1837 rebellion. These names are missing from all other printed lists (and from the archival index cards in the Library and Archives Canada microfilm noted above). They were "provided by Dr [Lucius] O'Brien, the Secretary of the late College."
The 1839 Act that formed the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Upper Canada (2 Victoria Cap 38) listed the first members of the College. All these names are included in the A-Z list; they have the notation ACTo in the Comments column.
The list includes all names listed in the 1867 Medical Register of Upper Canada. Published by the General Council of Medical Education and Registration of Upper Canada. This publication is certainly also incomplete as it does not list people who had not applied to be re-registered under the 1865 Act by 1st January 1867. (An Act to regulate the qualifications of practitioners in medicine and surgery in Upper Canada. (Canada, Statutes 29 Victoria 1865, cap. 108.) This publication notes the original registration years of those registered earlier. To try to catch any late registrants, it was supplemented by examining the Ontario Medical Registers for 1872 and 1878 and, to fill in names (there are no registration dates) A Medical directory for the province of Ontario, compiled by H. Strange in 1869 was also consulted.
Canniff's useful book The Medical Profession in Upper Canada; 1783-1850 was also checked. In this work Canniff gives biographies of many of the Upper Canada registrations from 1819-1850. These have “WC” in the comments column. He also abstracts the Proceedings of the Medical Board and lists many of those whose licences were approved and notes the names of many people (not listed here) who applied but were rejected. Any names given by Canniff that are 'unique' have a notation “WC Minutes” in the Comments column.
Though there was no functioning medical registration system in Ontario before the 1818 Act, Canniff notes that the 1795 parliament of Upper Canada passed an Act to regulate the practice of physic and surgery (Geo 3, 35 Cap.1). This created a Board to licence physicians and surgeons but, as with the Quebec Boards, it did not require licences for (past or current) military surgeons, nor did it "extend to any person who shall have taken a degree in a university in any of His Majesty’s dominions”. Canniff notes that no record of an examining board actually being established has been found and the Act was repealed in 1806 (Upper Canada, Statutes 1806, 44 Geo 3, Cap 2.) It was finally replaced a decade later by an ‘Act to licence practitioners in physic and surgery in this Province’ (Upper Canada, Statutes 1814, 54, Geo 3, Cap 10). This Act too was found to be unworkable and it was only in 1818 that the first, effective, medical board was created in Ontario. (Upper Canada, Statutes 1818, 59 Geo 3 Cap 13). This Act was amended several time (e.g. Upper Canada, Statutes, 1827, 8 Geo. IV, c. 3) but it essentially governed medical licensure from 1818 to 1841. It took many years for all practitioners to be registered and for many years military medical officers and 'graduates of universities' could be registered without the need to pass any additional examinations set by the Medical Board.
Printed lists of men licenced in Quebec appear in the British American Journal of Medical and Physical Science. Names from 1788 to 1829 are in v.2:8; December 1846 p.223-225. and those from 1830 to 1847 are in v.3:8: December 1847; p.216-219. There is a supplementary list with some 1848 licentiates in v. 4:3 July 1848 p.81-82.
A (supposedly) consolidated list of licentiates from 1788 to 1847 was published by the College in 1875 (Statuts, règles et règlements du Collège des médecins et chirurgiens du Bas-Canada, avec tous les amendements jusqu'au 8 juillet 1874 ... avec la liste des licenciés de la Province de Québec. Montréal : Imprimé par la compagnie d'impressions et de publications Lovell.) The listing is on pages 39-50 but it omits many names, in particular those registered before about 1820.
There is another compilation of Quebec registrations up to 1849 in Bulletin des Recherches Historiques v. 8, 1902 pp 175-180 (1788-1829) and pp 201-209 (1832-1849.) (This compilation lists ca. 15 persons as being licenced but "pas de date", copied from the listing in the British American Journal of Medical and Physical Science. v.2:8 p.225.) Both of the above compilations seem to omit many persons who had died, ceased to practice or moved away. The Registre médicale du Collège des medecins et chirurgiens de la province de Québec for 1883 and 1895 were also checked; these volumes corrected many of the errors made in the earlier lists published by the College but they omit many, but not all, of those who had died and certainly create additional spelling errors.
There were, of course, physicians and surgeons practicing in “New France” (and in the British colonies) prior to the conquest of 1759; most were military surgeons. Biographies of many of them are given in Rheault, Marcel J. La medicine en nouvelle France; les chirurgiens de Montreal 1642-1760. Montreal, Septenerion; 2004. At least one, Jean-Baptiste Jobert, remained active and was appointed as one of the first members of the Medical Board established in Montreal under the 1788 Act. Unless they were registered under this Act the names of these men are not listed here.
There were several lists of medical practitioners published in the Quebec and Montreal Almanacks. The Quebec Almanacks for 1798,1807, 1816, 1820 and 1832 have been checked and these names appear in the A-Z list. The Montreal Almanacks for 1829 and 1831 have also been checked – these publications seem to list, as is reasonable, only men who were currently practicing as the 1831 edition drops the names of those who died in 1830. Names that occur only in the Almanacks are shown with “Almanac” in the comments column; it is probable they were unregistered practitioners.
Most, but not all, the names in these other lists are in the official files; some men may have been registered without the need to get approval of the Quebec Medical Boards (there were two, Montreal and Quebec City) because the 1788 and several subsequent Acts excused men who ‘have taken a degree in any University, or who have been commissioned or warranted as surgeons in His Majesty’s army or navy to any examination previous to obtaining a licence.” In a few cases, what appears to be the official licence itself is in the files at Library and Archives Canada and this may signify that, though a licence was approved and prepared, it was never actually issued – due to death or leaving the Province?
In 1847 the Quebec legislature established the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Lower Canada (10 & 11 Victoria cap 26) “An act to incorporate the Members of the Medical Profession in Lower Canada and to regulate the study and practice of physic and surgery therein.”). This Act lists the names of the initial Members of the College. Most, but not all, were listed in one of the other earlier lists. These men are noted in the listing with “ACT” in the comments column. (Some of the names given in the Act are incomplete and it is impossible to be sure if they are 'new’.) In 1851 this Act was amended to ‘afford relief to certain persons who were in practice as physicians and surgeons in this Province”. This Act, 14 & 15 Victoria cap 105, lists a further seventeen men whose names were omitted from the list in the 1847 Act. They are also in the listing and have a note in the comments column - ACT2. (These names were also omitted from the 1868 compilation noted above.) Until the passage of the 1847 Act establishing the College, licences were issued by the Governor (or Lt. Governor), generally, after a positive report from the Medical Boards in Quebec City and Montreal. After the passage of an Act in 1851 (12 Vic. Cap. 51) the College itself, not the Governor, was able to issue licences.
After this 1851 Act was passed, the registration of physicians and surgeons in Quebec fell to the profession itself and in 1868 the College published a consolidated listing of licences issued from 1847-1868 as: Alphabetical list of the members, governors, & officers of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of the Province of Quebec, Canada : and also of all the licentiates of the same College since its foundation in 1847 to May 1868. Montreal: Minerve Steam Press, 1868. This publication states that it lists “all the licenciates of the same College since its foundation in 1847 to May 1868.” This list is also not complete, at least for those who had been registered prior to 1847 and were re-registered and the 'alphabetical order' and spelling of names is 'somewhat' eccentric. All names in this publication - corrected as far as possible - are in the A-Z listing.
In 1841, when Upper and Lower Canada were united to form the Province of Canada an Act was passed by the new Provincial Parliament on 18 September 1841 to allow authorized medical men to practice throughout the new Province. (4 Victoria Cap 41.) In the 1867 Ontario List referred to above there are many examples of men licenced to practice in Ontario in 1866 based on having previously obtained a Lower Canada Licence.
Prior to 1848 the Medical Boards in Quebec also examined MIDWIVES and the files and lists note about 25 who were licenced between 1788 and 1848. It seems unlikely that these were the only midwives practicing in Quebec during these years; are the files incomplete, did registrations only happen if there was some sort of registration 'blitz'? So that these people (mostly women) can be identified they are filed first under "Midwife" in the listing.
Thanks: Many of the hand-written records are difficult to decipher and a large number have incomplete first names. Dr Don Brearley of Belleville has been very helpful in 'filling in the blanks".
Return to David Crawford's Home Page
Most recently updated on: 14 February 2017