Memorable Manitobans: Charlotte Whitehead Ross (1843-1916)
Born in Darlington, England on 15 July 1843, daughter of Joseph Whitehead, she emigrated to Canada with her parents in 1847, settling in Montreal. She married David Ross (c1834-1912) who was engaged in railway construction with her father. Encouraged by her husband, she entered the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia and over a ten-year period completed her course in 1875. During that time she also had four children. While her husband remained in Montreal, she practised medicine there.
Her father and her husband moved west to construct the Canadian Pacific Railway line between Kenora and Winnipeg, and the Ross family settled in Whitemouth. Learning of her medical qualifications, the people of the district persuaded her to practise, but because Whitemouth was in disputed territory between Manitoba and Ontario it was necessary to pass legislation enabling her to do so. It was never approved.
She continued to practise for many years although she was never formally licensed by the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons. She moved to Winnipeg in 1916 and died at her home, 144 Lenore Street, on 21 February 1916 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery. The Charlotte W. Ross Gold Medal for highest honours in obstetrics is given annually in the Manitoba Medical College. It was presented by her granddaughter, Dr. Edith Ross, and was first awarded in 1917. She was selected posthumously as a Manitoba Woman Trailblazer.
Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Woman pioneer of Manitoba dead,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 February 1916, page 20.
“Buried at Brookside,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 February 1916, page 10.
Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 8 February 2022