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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Sir James Alexander Grant, M.D.


SIR JAMES ALEXANDER GRANT, Chief of Clan Grant of Corrimory, was born in Inverness, August 11, 1831, the son of Dr. James Grant and Jane Ogilvy, and the grandson of James Grant 7th of Corrimory, a noted advocate and author of Thoughts on the Origin and Descent of the Gael. In appreciation of this work, the Highland Society of Scotland presented him with a large silver cup, now in possession of Sir James. In 1832, Sir James’s parents removed to Upper Canada, where his father, a graduate of Edinburgh, practised his profession in Martintown, Glengarry, for more than forty years, enjoying the respect of the entire countryside.

Sir James studied at the village high school and entered Queen’s College, Kingston, in 1849, where he carried off the University Scholarship in Arts. Two years later he began the study of medicine at McGill University, passing the examinations of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1853. He practised for six months in Williamstown, Glengarry, was a prosector in the University, and was graduated in 1854. He then settled in Bytown, now Ottawa City, where he is still in active practice and a commanding figure in Canadian professional and public life.

In 1846, he studied in English and Scottish hospitals, receiving the degrees of M.R.C.S., England; M.R.C.S., London; and F.R.C.S., Edinburgh. He was member of the Medical Council, 1866-1869, and its President, 1868-1869. He was appointed by Lord Monck, first Governor-General of Canada after confederation, physician to the Vice-Regal household, a post he held with marked success until 1905, when appointed honorary physician. He was in attendance at Rideau Hall during the term of H.R.H. Princess Louise, and in Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Year, 1887, received the K.C.M.G., "in acknowledgement of his professional services and scientific attainments."

While on a visit to England in 1900, he was summoned by Queen Victoria to lunch at Balmoral Castle. This visit was reported in the Court Journal and called forth many inquiries as to the state of Her Majesty’s health. In his interview with the Queen, in order to hear distinctly, it was necessary for Sir James to take a small chair and sit down beside Her Maj esty, her voice then being very feeble. In mentioning this afterward to Sir James Reid, the Queen’s physician, he exclaimed, "Gladstone and yourself are the only two who ever sat down during an interview with Her Majesty!’’

Sir James was President of the Canada Medical Association, 1874; member of the International Medical Congress, Philadelphia, 1876, and Vice-President of the Department of Surgery; President, Tuberculosis Association; President, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Ontario; honorary member American Academy of Medicine and British Medical Association; Fellow and President Royal Society of Canada, 1903; Honorary Vice-President Medical Congress of the World, Washington, 1887; corresponding member Association del Benemeriti Italiani, Palermo, Sicily, and awarded gold medal in recognition of his standing in medical science; awarded Legion of Honour of Italy for contributions to medical science; President for Canada, International Hygienic Congress of the World, Paris, 1910; Representative for Canada, Third International Congress on School Hygiene, Buffalo, 1913; honorary member Canadian Medical Association, 1913; President of General Hospital, Ottawa, and Chief-of-Staff twenty-five years: eonsult.ing physician, St. Luke’s, Children’s and Maternity Hospitals, Ottawa, and Samaritan Hospital, Montreal; and President of the Ottawa Graduates’ Association of McGill College (and one of its oldest living graduates). He is an active member and has been President of the St. Andrew’s Society; the Literary and Scientific Society of Ottawa, 1884; and an honorary member of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec. In 1910, on a visit to his birthplace, the freedom of the city of Inverness was conferred upon him. He was entertained at a public banquet and presented with a gold loving-cup by his professional brethren in Canada in 1903, on completing his fifty years of active practice.

Sir James’s chief discoveries in medical science are: Serum Therapy, in Ottawa Protestant Hospital, in 1861; Abnormal Storage of Electricity, in 1884; and Nerve Block, in 1913. The Medical Council of Ontario, following a declaration of The London Lancet, of May 20, 1916, passed resolutions of appreciation of the services of Sir James Alexander Grant, "The Grand Old Man of Canadian Medicine," as the discoverer of Serum Therapy.

Sir James has taken an active part in public affairs and in the development of Canada. He sat in Parliament., as a Conservative, for Russell, 1867-1874, and for Ottawa City, 1893-1896. He was one of the first to recognize the need of a transcontinental Canadian railway, and introduced and vigorously supported the first Pacific Railway bill. He also advocated warmly the admission of the Northwest and British Columbia into confederation. He is a forcible speaker and also enjoys a reputation as a geologist. His contributions to medical periodicals would fill several volumes.

Sir James married, January 22, 1856, Maria, daughter of the late Edward Malloch, who represented Carleton in the Canadian Parliament for many years. At the recent celebration of their sixtieth wedding anniversary, they were the recipients of felicitations from friends in every part of the world. Lady Grant is very popular in Ottawa, where they have resided since their marriage, and has been active in many philanthropic and charitable organizations. In connection with the Ottawa Humane Society, she was one of the first to offer a silver medal for bravery to one who had saved a life from drowning. Sir James and Lady Grant attend the St. Andrew ‘s Presbyterian Church, Ottawa, of which they have been members since 1854. Of twelve children, seven survive: Mrs. George Major, Niagara; Mrs. Harry Cassells. Montreal; Miss Harriet; Dr. James A. Grant, Ottawa: Dr. H. Y. Grant; E. C. Grant; and W. W. Grant.


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