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Canadian History
Alex Allan Henderson, M.D.


M.D., Ottawa, was born in Dunblane, Scotland, on April 14, 1843. His father was Rev. Alex Henderson, and his mother's maiden name was Margaret Eadie. His father was for twenty years in charge of the United Presbyterian Church in Dunblane, Scotland. He came with his family to Canada in 1849. After his arrival he, in the course of his ministerial tour, visited the village of Fitzroy Harbour, on the Ottawa river. being a lover of nature, he was so impressed with the romantic scenery of that locality, abounding, as it did and still does, with waterfall, lake, and woodland, together with fertile and well cultivated land, that he accepted the charge of the Presbyterian congregation there. Although often requested to accept larger and more lucrative charges, for which he was well qualified by his more than ordinary ability, he declined, and remained in the place of his choice till his death. Our subject received his early education chiefly under his father's care. A careful attention to classics was given in the lad's education, in addition to a general education. He subsequently entered McGill University, Montreal, and graduated in medicine, with honours, in 1870. In McGill he was awarded the Holmes Gold Medal, the Primary Prize, and also a Special Prize sent from London, England, by sir Duncan Gibb to McGill College for competitive examination in Clinical Surgery. After leaving college, young Henderson spent some time travelling through Canada and the United States, visiting friends and trying to select a satisfactory place for practicing his profession. Finally, at the request of friends in Ottawa, he selected that city for his home, and opened an office on Duke Street. A large practice was soon established here. In 1880 he removed from Duke Street to "Sparks Place", on Albert Street, and five years afterwards removed to his own residence, which is picturesquely situated on the corner of Albert and Bay streets, where our subject now resides. Dr. Henderson originated the idea of and was the first in Canada to apply successfully the plaster-of-Paris jacket for the immediate relief and subsequent cure of spinal irritation without any deformity. A description of several cases treated successfully by him in this manner was published in the Canada Lancet for March 1881. This, so far as we are aware, was the first article published calling the attention of the profession to this mode of treating that troublesome disease. The first operation performed by him in this manner, and recorded in the article referred to, took place on March 11th, 1878. Since that date he has adopted that operation for every suitable case of that disease. Dr. Henderson is a member of the medical staff of the Protestant Hospital at Ottawa. He has been for many years connected with the Masonic Order, and has taken an active part in it. He was initiated into masonry in St. Paul's Lodge, in Montreal, during his residence in that city; and he occupied the Worshipful Master's chair of the Chaudiere Lodge of Ottawa for several years. He is also a member of the Carleton Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and held office in it. He likewise belongs to "Court Ottawa" of the Independent Order of Foresters. He is an enthusiastic traveller and takes advantage of the summer holidays to visit new places each year. He has visited the chief places of interest in Canada and the United States. He has not confined his attention to the cities alone, but has examined with interest many of the more secluded parts of our country, as well as sailed with pleasure over our noble lakes and rivers. He is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and has been a Presbyterian from youth up. He is in politics a Liberal. On October 15th, 1872, Dr. Henderson married Miss Elizabeth S. Smith, daughter of John Smith, Esq,. late Writer to the Signet, of Edinburgh, Scotland. He is of a genial disposition, and enjoys the society of his friends, of which he has very many warm ones.


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