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Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical
Vol 3
John Phelan MacDonald, M.D.


The war took toll of another life when Dr. John Phelan MacDonald passed away, for ill health which finally terminated in his demise was directly traceable to his army service, he was for a number of years a prominent physician and leading citizen of Edmonton, as well as an honored veteran of the World strife. A native of Perth, Ontario, he was born on the 25th of May, 1868, and supplemented his early educational training by study in the Perth Collegiate Institute, while later he attended Kingston College and eventually became a student in McGill University. Still later he took postgraduate work in the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland, and in Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. his educational training, however, was not continuous, for through a period of ten years he devoted his attention to the profession of teaching before entering McGill to prepare for the practice of medicine and surgery. When he had completed his professional course he concentrated his efforts and attention upon active practice, in which he continued throughout his remaining days, although a part of this time was spent in the military service of the country. He was for an extended period overseas with the Royal Army Medical Corps in the imperial forces and returned to Canada in broken health, his condition being attributable largely to his arduous work with the colors. He served overseas from November, 1915, until August, 1919, with the Fifty-eighth Scottish General Hospital and the Fifty-fifth division in France. He was also for six months with the Army of Occupation in Germany and was especially mentioned for his work in connection with the sanitation of camps, while numerous camps throughout the British army were copied after the system which he inaugurated.

In the year 1897 Dr. MacDonald was united in marriage to Miss Gertrude Kenney of Montreal and they became the parents of four sons and a daughter, who survive the husband and father. Dr. MacDonald was a Roman Catholic in religious faith and a Liberal in his political belief. He belonged to the Ancient Order of Foresters, the Sons of Scotland and the B. A. Y. N. and he was also a member of the Central Alberta Medical Association, of which he was at one time president. He died on the 20th of November, 1920, and few funerals in Edmonton, military or otherwise, have been more impressive or more largely attended than that of Dr. MacDonald. The services were held in St. Joachim's church and although it is not customary in that church to depart from the mass Father Daniel, who conducted the services, deemed it proper to say a few words as to the character of the man who had made such a host of friends and admirers in Edmonton and spoke most fittingly of his ability, his humor, his personal worth and his high rank as a physician, as a military official and as a private citizen. Be was a great humorist and his presence was eagerly sought at dinners and all kinds of functions, as he was the spirit and life of every gathering he attended, his witticisms and drollery changing many a dull evening into one of mirth and laughter. This attitude toward life made him of great value in his profession, especially overseas, in his capacity of medical officer in the Imperial army. his charity was known far and wide and he died a comparatively poor man, having given away a fortune to alleviate the suffering of mankind during his lifetime. He was indeed one of the best known physicians of Edmonton and one of the most capable and his high professional standing and service were matched by his personal qualities, which made for popularity and endeared him to all by whom he was known.


 


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