Today, the house at 196 Ontario Street stands as an oasis of civility and calm in the midst of asphalt and strip malls as it witnesses the stream of traffic past its doors. But in 1907 it was home to Daisy Macklin, Stratford’s first female physician and one of the first to practice medicine in Canada.
Daisy Mary Moore Macklin was born at Stratford, Ontario on May 8, 1873, the daughter of William Macklin and Hester Godfrey. The family’s dry goods business operated out of the Macklin Block, the former Family & Company store at 9 Ontario Street, across from the Perth County Court House.
Daisy Macklin attended public school and the Collegiate Institute in Stratford before studying medicine at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1895, as had her brothers before her – William (b. 1860) and Alfred (b. 1868). In doing so she continued on a path cleared by Jenny Trout and Emily Howard Stowe, the first women admitted to medical school in Toronto (1871) and the first to be licenced to practice medicine in Ontario.
She practiced medicine in Stratford, but one year later, in 1896, she left to pursue missionary work in China. Her brother, Dr William Macklin and his wife Dr Dorothy DeLany preceded her there. They went to China in 1886, where they founded a medical mission in Nanjing, sponsored by the Disciples of Christ Church. In 1892 they opened the Nanjing Christian Hospital, one of the earliest western medical hospitals in China. (The original, four-story 1892 hospital was fully renovated in 2006, and in 2007 the historic building was formally re-dedicated as The 1892 Memorial Hall and Hospital Archives.) The hospital continues to serve as one of China’s important treatment and medical research facilities.
Dr. Daisy Macklin practiced medicine in China for four years, her time there coinciding with the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), a violent and bloody uprising by Chinese nationals who resented the presence of Western powers that had slowly eroded Chinese sovereignty, starting in the 1840s, by building railroads and establishing Christian missionaries. (The rebels were called the Boxers by foreigners, because of the martial arts many of them practiced.) More than 30,000 were murdered, primarily Chinese Catholics but also foreign missionaries and their families. The foreign powers responded with a combined force of some 55,000 troops, largely Japanese, Russian and British, who brutally killed, raped and looted their way across China – newspapers calling it “an orgy of looting” by soldiers, civilians and missionaries – before imposing a staggering reparation, equivalent to over $60 billion today.
We don’t know to what extent the Macklins were directly affected by these events. More prosaically, Daisy Macklin fell off a donkey some time in 1900 and the injuries were such that she returned to Stratford to convalesce, subsequently continuing her medical practice there, until her death in 1925. In 1907, she moved into the house at 196 Ontario Street.
“More Than Bricks and Mortar,” ACO, Stratford/Perth County (Issue 3 – June 2014) http://www.stratford-perthcountybranchaco.ca/uploads/files/June_2014_Newsletter.pdf
Dr. Donald Brearley “Female Physicians: A directory of short character sketches about female physicians who graduated from the Ontario Medical College for Women at Toronto” (Ontario Genealogical Society, Quinte Branch, 2017), p. 18. http://sites.rootsweb.com/~canqbogs/pdf_files/Brearley_Female_Physicians Toronto.pdf
The United Christian Missionary Society, “They Went To China: Biographies of Missionaries of the Disciples of Christ” (StoneCampbell Books, 1948). https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/crs_books/477