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Memorable Manitobans: John Ralston Davidson (1870-1948)

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John R. Davidson
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Physician.

Born at St. Philippe d’Argenteuil, Quebec, 1870, son of John and Cecilia Davidson, he moved with his family to Manitou 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. He practiced medicine briefly at Morden then, after studying at Johns Hopkins University he returned to practise at Winnipeg. He was appointed to the Faculty of Medicine in 1904, serving until 1933.

He 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 Manitoba government 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.

In 1900, he married Edith Helen Mitchell (1879-?) of Winnipeg, daughter of J. B. Mitchell and H. R. Brough, with whom he had four children: Alan Mitchell Davidson (b 1903), Alice Edith Davidson (b 1906), Evelyn Helen Davidson (b 1906), and Marion Davidson (b 1909). He lived at 4 Ruskin Row for more than 30 years.

He died in the St. Boniface Hospital on 15 April 1948 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

See also:

Davidson of Manitoba: Cancer Pioneer by Gurney Bishop, London: L & N Bishop, 1974.

Sources:

Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

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.

“Dr. J. R. Davidson dies at 78 years,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 April 1948, page 12.

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: 31 August 2014

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