Memorable Manitobans: Murrough Charles O’Brien (1868-1955)
Physician and surgeon.
Born at Delhi, India on 2 May 1868, son of Edward O’Brien and Mary Lamb, he was educated at St. Mary’s Hospital (London), Dover College (Kent), and the University of Manitoba (1897). He practised at Dominion City from 1897 to 1910, then at Winnipeg from 1910 to 1914. During the First World War, he joined the British War Emergency Unit and was the first British Medical Officer in Northern Russia, at Kola.
After the war, he returned to Manitoba and opened a practice at Rossburn, moving to Birtle in March 1925. He later moved to Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan where he continued his medical practice. In 1902, he married Margaret Eleanor Barber (?-?) of Dominion City, with whom he had a daughter. He served as President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba in 1908 and the Mayor of Rossburn in 1922. A biography by Robert Tyre was published in 1954 as Saddlebag Surgeon: The Story of Murrough O'Brien M.D. He retired the next year, having delivered over 9,000 babies over the course of his medical career.
He died at North Battleford, Saskatchewan on 5 December 1955. He is commemorated by O’Brien Avenue in Dominion City.
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.
“Saddlebag surgeon dies, aged 88,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 December 1955, page 21.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
We thank Nicole Courrier (University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections) for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 2 February 2020