One of Flamborough’s most beloved physicians was Dr. J. O. McGregor, who practised in Waterdown from 1884 to 1927. Born December 19, 1850, he attended high school in Guelph and acquired his degree of Medical Doctor at the University of Michigan in 1873. He was declared a Medical Practitioner at the University of Toronto two years later and began his practice in Dundas following his graduation. In 1878, Dr. McGregor married Elizabeth Mary Mackenzie and had a family of eight children, two of whom became notable surgeons in the Hamilton area and three of whom served as nurses in the First World War.
In 1884, Dr. McGregor moved his practice to Waterdown, where he remained until his death. The location of his first village practice was on the south east corner of Dundas and Main streets, where he also operated a pharmacy and acted as the druggist. When he moved his practice to his home on Main Street North, the empty second storey above the pharmacy became known as McGregor Hall and was the site of village meetings and activities until the building was destroyed in the Waterdown fire of 1922.
Dr. McGregor was very active in the political life of the village. He was elected Reeve of Waterdown in 1895, served on the Village of Waterdown Council for 16 consecutive years and was appointed Warden of Wentworth County for two years beginning in 1897. However, Dr. McGregor is most remembered for his devotion to his sick patients. An article in the January 16, 1892 edition of The Hamilton Spectator on the spread of gripe in the countryside, stated “Dr. McGregor of Waterdown has ninety-one patients sick. He drives nearly 100 miles a day between 7 a. m. and 9 p. m., using up two teams of horses. Some nights he does not get to bed at all.”
He made calls in the village for 50 cents and his charge for confinements was $5. The day after a medical visit, he always made a courtesy call, often accompanied by his wife. He was described as “a venerable old-type country physician” and “a law unto himself.’ A 1928 editorial in The Hamilton Spectator noted, “He was more than the family physician, he was the family advisor and mentor, friend and guide; he was loved and trusted by all.”
In 1927, Dr. McGregor was struck by a car, and as a result of his injuries was forced to end his medical career. He died on April 23, 1928 at the Hamilton General Hospital and was buried in Union Cemetery, Waterdown, where his monument reads, “Administered to the sick in this district for 48 years.”
Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at email@example.com.
This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 11 April 2008.