M9188.8.131.52x | John McCrae, about 1912
John McCrae, about 1912
About 1912, 20th century
23.5 x 14.3 cm
This artefact belongs to : © Guelph Museums
Keys to History
In less than two years, John McCrae will leave civilian life for the front in the First World War. With nearly fourteen years of medical practice behind him, he looks very much the successful doctor. At this point in his career, he was lecturing at McGill University, practising in his own clinic and co-authoring a medical text with the renowned Dr. William Osler (1849-1919).
McCrae had maintained a close friendship with Dr. Osler since his visit to Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1899, and incorporated much of Osler's teaching into his own practice. Dr. Osler, who had graduated with a degree in medicine from McGill University the year McCrae was born, would have many credits to his name. He was the first Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital, a specialist in blood, heart and lung diseases who published many medical texts. Osler emphasized compassionate care for patients, equating this with successful recovery rates, and he helped create a system of postgraduate training for physicians that is still used today.
McCrae's correspondence describes a busy schedule. He belonged to several Montreal clubs including the Shakespeare Club, a literary group, the Zeta Psi Fraternity, the McGill University Club, and the Military Institute Club of Montreal. Sundays took him to St. Paul's Presbyterian Church on Sherbrooke Street for services.
John McCrae put much of his energy into his work, but still managed to maintain a wide circle of friends, including the writer and humorist Stephen Leacock (1869-1944 ), Oskar Klotz (1878-1936), Andrew Macphail (1830-1938), John Macnaughton (1858-1943), Edward Archibald (1872-1945), George Adami (1862-1926), and Leo Amery(1873-1955).
This photograph may have been taken outside McCrae's top floor apartment at the house of Dr. Edward Archibald on Metcalfe Street in Montreal.
Two years prior to this photograph (1912), McCrae was invited to be the physician with an expedition set up by Canada's Governor General, Earl Grey in order to determine the potential of a rail link to a port on Hudson's Bay.
McCrae's university teaching and bachelor life also allowed him to travel overseas, and he often earned his passage as the ship's surgeon.