The first was a young man known to us only as Stewart. He was a medical student who had traveled to Robert's home at the HBC post of Whitefish lake, near what is now Sudbury, in northern Ontario. When Robert was fifteen, Stewart was hired by Robert's mother, Maggie, as a tutor for her ten children, and the young man spent a summer in the bush teaching the children science. According to an essay Robert wrote when he attended medical school at Queen's University, ..."Stewart was only a few months with us, but during that time he inspired his pupils with a thirst for knowledge and a deep interest in Queen's....I decided that I would come to Queen's someday."
The second medical hero in Robert's life was his mother's good friend, Dr. Helen Elizabeth Ryan. This remarkable woman was the first female doctor admitted to the Canadian Medical Association. She was just the fifth female graduate of a Canadian medical school or college, graduating from Queen's University Medical School in 1885.
She first practiced in Toronto , then, in 1890, journeyed to Sudbury where she married TJ Ryan and began her 17 year long medical career in the Sudbury area. (The South Side Story, Sudbury, January, 2005)
Robert knew Dr. Ryan as his mother's good friend but they became even closer when Robert courted and married
Dr. Ryan's young cousin, Jennie Louise. When Robert announced that he wished to become a medical doctor, Dr. Ryan strongly advised him to attend her alma mater, Queen's University Medical School and offered her support.
And so he did, graduating in 1908 with his MDCM, before journeying to Alberta in 1909.
You can read more about Robert's life before he became a doctor in my upcoming book, The Trader's Son, available early 2017.