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Memorable Manitobans: John Ralston Davidson (1870-1948)

Click to enlargePhysician, athlete.

Born at St. Philippe d’Argenteuil, Quebec, 1870, son of John and Cecilia Davidson, he moved with his family to Manitou, Manitoba, in 1878. He was educated at Manitoba College, where he received his BA in 1893, and the Manitoba Medical College, where he earned his MD in 1896. He was a keen athlete in track, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, and curling, and was named best all-round athlete at Manitoba College in 1892. After studying at Johns Hopkins University he returned to practise medicine in Winnipeg.

In 1900, he married Edith Helen Mitchell of Winnipeg, daughter of J. B. Mitchell and H. R. Brough, with whom he had a son and three daughters. He lived at 4 Ruskin Row for more than 30 years.

He was appointed to the Faculty of Medicine in 1904, serving until 1933. Davidson was responsible for the development of a highly controversial treatment for cancer involving a high-vitamin diet, which was the subject of a House of Commons debate in 1944. His treatment was subsequently investigated by a four-man medical commission appointed by the province later in 1944, which discounted its efficacy. MLA Lewis St. George Stubbs took up Davidson’s case in the Manitoba legislature, lambasting the commission for its procedures.

Davidson died in the St. Boniface Hospital.

See also:

Davidson of Manitoba by Gurney Bishop (1974).


Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.

Crescentwood: A History by R. R. Rostecki, Crescentwood Home Owners Association, 1993.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 7 April 2012

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