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Pictonians in the Medical Profession

Robert Louis Stevenson said there are men and classes of men that stand above the common herd the soldier, the sailor and the shepherd not infrequently, the artist rarely, the clergyman rarelier still, the physician almost as a rule.

On the score of priority in the field the physicians from Pictou may justly enter a claim for precedence over the other professions. For foremost among the little band of settlers, who, on June 10, 1757, arrived aboard the Brig Hope and laid the foundations of the town of Pictou, came Dr. John Harris, an agent of the Philadelphia company.

It is to be taken for granted that Dr. Harris did not depend for a living upon his practice, for the Hope brought only 35 or 40 passengers, all told. Incidentally, it may be remarked that the first white child born in the county came into the world the very night of the arrival of the brig, when the doctor's own family received the addition of a son. He afterward became known as Clerk "Tommy" Harris, having the position of Clerk of Peace for many years. He died in 1809, and was buried in the Pictou cemetery. where a monument stood to his memory, long since fallen, on which was the inscription, "The first descendant of an Englishman born in Pictou." We may add that Dr. Harris' daughter, afterward Mrs. Robert Cook, born in 1769, was the first female child born in Pictou of English parentage.

Since that day, a century and a half ago, generation after generation of his successors carried on their appointed labors, and of many even the names have passed from the memory of men. Naturally, the earliest of these were not natives of the county. Among pioneer physicians of

Pictou town and vicinity were Dr. Skinner, Dr. Johnstone, Dr. Kirkwood and Dr. Anderson. The physicians who first settled in New Glasgow were Dr. Wade, Dr. James Skinner, Dr. John Fox, Dr. Alexander Forrest, from 1832-1875. Dr. James Donnelly practiced at Albion Mines, now Stellarton, for many years. He was a native of the North of Ireland. He died in 1866 in the fifty-sixth year of his age.

But with the gradual increase of population, of worldly goods and of educational advantages, her young men began to take advantage of their opportunity to qualify themselves for more ambitious careers. The practice of the healing art evidently appealed with force to a considerable proportion as the partial list appearing upon subsequent pages will indicate. It is practically impossible to give a complete list of all the native sons and daughters of Pictou who, since the first settlement, have given themselves to the medical profession. But of this list, it may be said with truth, of all her sons, of none may the county more reasonably feel proud than of those whose names appear herein. Far and wide are they scattered, living or dead, but in whatever place their lot was cast they brought credit to their native land. Not a few arose to eminence in. the profession. The county in which they were born today is recognized as a section where the best standards of medical knowledge and professional ethics are maintained.

Name, place of birth, alma mater and present address, if living, shows 190 physicians of whom knowledge is available:

Additional Resources

List of Physicians

Pictonians at Home and Abroad, 1914


Pictou County

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