Dr. Hanly I Presume -“Since I have been in Almonte I have not averaged $1500.00 a year”

Dr. Hanly I Presume -“Since I have been in Almonte I have not averaged $1500.00 a year”

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The other original Almonte Doctor: John Frederick Hanly
by Linda Hanly Reid, May, 2009

The February 1927 Almonte Gazette article reads, “SUDDEN DEATH OF DR. HANLY LAST MONDAY –
Widely Known Medical Practitioner Passes As He Reaches His Home –
WAS VISITING PATIENTS – For Thirty-four Years He Was Prominent Citizen of Almonte.

Dr. JFH, widely known medical practitioner, died very suddenly on Monday afternoon as he stepped from  his cutter after returning home from visiting his patients. He was 58 years of age. His sudden passing stirred the community deeply.  For about a year he had not been in the best of health. Heart trouble was the cause. Early last summer he went to Toronto to seek the advice of specialists, and was warned that he would require to take the greatest care. For a little time he did very little work, but he soon abandoned the life of ease suggested to him and plunged again into the hard work in which he rejoiced.  

Graduate of Toronto – Dr. Hanly was a son of the late Dr. John Hanly, of Waubaushene on the Georgian Bay. He was a graduate of Toronto University, and for a time assisted his father in his extensive medical practice. It was a practice which involved arduous travel by land and water and often on snowshoes in winter. From boyhood up he was trained to feats of physical endurance. He became a skilful sailor, and preserved to the end a great love for the water.

December 1912

Last summer he spent a short time among the scenes of his boyhood and visited Midland, his aged mother and his brothers.  Came to Almonte – Thirty four years ago (1893) Dr. Hanly came to Almonte, (in 1893 Dr. John F. Hanly succeeded Dr. Johnston.  The first hospital in Almonte was instituted in the dwelling occupied by Dr. William Lockhart, of Ottawa Street, under the care of and through the cooperation of the late Dr. Lynch and Drs. Hanly, Metcalfe and Kelly), and throughout that long period he occupied a prominent position in the community. Despite the exacting nature of a large practice he devoted a large amount of his time to educational matters. For many years he was a member of the Almonte Board of Education, of which he had been chairman, and he was a prominent member of the Lanark County Educational Association.  


Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 07 Mar 1927, Mon,
  3. Page 5

He was a scholarly man, and he loved good books. He took a deep interest in the Public Library and was associated with it for a long time as a member of the board. He was himself possessed of a carefully selected library.  

Medical Health Officer – Dr. Hanly was medical health officer for Almonte. There is no doubt that the strain and anxiety caused by the recent epidemics took a large toll of his strength. He was the local physician for the C.P.R.  He took an active interest in the affairs of his church and for many years was secretary of Bethany United congregation. He was frequently urged to allow himself to be appointed an elder of the church, but always refused.  In politicshe was a strong Liberal. He attended the last Liberal convention at Lanark Village to nominate a federal candidate, but he was unable to be present at the convention to nominate a provincial candidate. This was the first convention he missed in 26 years.

 Besides his wife and his widowed mother, he leaves two sons and a daughter to mourn his loss: Arthur, of New York, USA ;Lois, of Toronto; and Bruce at home. Two brothers, who reside at Midland, also survive him.  

Met With Accident – Seven or eight years ago Dr. Hanly met with a nasty accident. He was coming down the steps of the R. M. Hospital in winter after visiting his patients, when he slipped on the ice, and fell heavily. His head was badly cut.  

A Good Athlete – Dr. Hanly in his younger days was a good athlete, and was prominent in sport while a student at Toronto University. He was particularly fond of cricket, and played for many years with the Almonte Club. He was a good skater and a good oarsman. He took a deep interest in the local hockey team, and this was the first winter that he was unable to go to the rink to see a game.  

The Funeral – The funeral took place this Thursday afternoon from the family Residence on Country Street to the Auld Kirk Cemetery. There was a very large gathering of mourners, one of the largest seen here in recent years.  Rev. J. R. MacCrimmon, of Bethany United Church, conducted the service and the pallbearers were Messrs. T. J. Reid, Henry Brown, D. J. Dick, M. R. MacFarlane, W. West, and Adam Craig.  Relatives present included Dr. Hanly’s two sons, Arthur and Bruce, his daughter, Miss Lois Hanly; and his two brothers from Midland.  Among those from out of town were Mr. Robert Young, and Mrs. George Bennett, of Ottawa; Messrs. Robert Paterson, David Findlay, W. R. Caldwell, Dr. Downing and Dr. Johnston, of Carleton Place. There were many from the country round about. The members of the Board of Education and the town council were present in a body. The schools were closed in the afternoon and all the members of the teaching staff attended. The blinds of most of the places of business were drawn as the long funeral procession wended its way through town to the last resting place of the deceased physician.”

His Professional card read: “Dr. Hanly, Graduate of Toronto University Medical College.
Physician, Surgeon and Accoucheur.  Office corner of Richey and Bridge Streets, nearly
opposite Bank of Montreal. Telephone No. 80″ He had been home schooled by his father, Dr. John Hanly, and he wrote his college entrance exams in Orillia. His father had been a
teacher before becoming a medical doctor. His daughter, Lois would become a nurse, and sons Arthur (my grandfather) an electrical engineer and Bruce a civil engineer.

Here is a portion of a letter to his brother in Midland concerning family money matters:
“Almonte, Dec. 18th, 1920.

Dear Bruce,

Your letter to hand today and although it was welcome I can scarcely say that I was particularly glad to get this one. For one thing I am very hard up and in pain always. I have nearly sweated blood to save a dollar. My means along side of  yours and SC’s (his other brother) is almost pitiful. My personal clothing is almost a disgrace to me. Jennie is not much better. Bruce has not yet had a single dud of new goods on his back. My fur coat, an absolute necessity here, in winter for driving, is so shabby I only wear it at
night. My insurance is less than $4,000.00 today and I have to pay more than twice what I did at first.

I have never joined a curling club or a golf club since I came to Almonte. I was
not able to afford it. Jennie’s mother has stayed many years with us. The rest I earned at
hard laboring work. I would gladly have earned it all but father wished to take some trips and begged me to get through as soon as I could. Not many in Midland get through college before they are 22 years old but I did and from that day to now I have been at work and up till now. My holidays in the past 30 years have in all amounted to 6 weeks. Since I have been in Almonte I have not averaged $1500.00 a year. This is the Christmas season but Xmas gifts & I will be very much missing here this year. But I hope you will all have a happy Christmas and a prosperous & happy new year.

“Your loving brother, Jno. F. Hanly”  

He would die 7 years later, a year prior to his mothers death.

In 1891 he married Jane Elizabeth Kean (Jennie).  Following her husband’s death she wrote this letter to her mother-in-law:

“Almonte, Mar. 17/27.  

Dear Grandmother:-

I think I have put off writing to you for it does seem harder to do than any one else. I have just written Maggie. I know what you must be going through thinking of your dear boy gone. This is certainly a terrible terrible lonely home. It does not seem like home anymore without John. For as you know he has been around the house so much the last year and always so cheerful about his trouble. He certainly gave his life for others which is the greatest of all sacrifices.

He certainly left a lot of friends in this part. One lady that used to be a patient of his here wrote me from Paterson, New Jersey, USA ,and said the Editorial in the Gazette certainly described the Dr. It was on the inside of the front-page. We were so glad to see Bruce and Bird (his brothers). I only wish John could know they were here. Artie is back to work again, Lois is with me, Bruce is at school. He has his exams to get in June. I am able to sit down stairs and attend to people coming in. One leg and my heart is giving me considerable trouble so they will not let me go about. We have had some correspondence with a couple of Drs. but not much yet.

The ad will be in ‘The Globe for the next three Saturdays. If we do not manage to sell to a Doctor we will not get very much for the place … not very much anyway but a little more. Almonte has gone back so much. I had a letter from Lizzie (Riddel) Stevenson Yorkton, Saskatchewan I have had over 90 from all over. I just had to get small cards to answer them. I could not write notes to all. I do hope you will keep well. It is so much easier to get down than up. With love from all.

Jennie E. Hanly”

The June 28, 1951 Almonte Gazette stated, “Mrs. Hanly passed away at Port Colborne on Sunday, June 24, 1951 in her 83rd year. Among those from Almonte who were present at the Auld Kirk Cemetery were Dr. J. K. Kelly, Dr. J. F. Dunn and Mrs. Dunn, Miss Ishbel Guthrie and Dr. A. A. Metcalfe. Drs. Kelly, Dunn and Metcalfe were contemporaries of Mrs. Hanly’s husband, the late Dr. J. F. Hanly. Dr. Hanly’s office and residence was on Bridge Street where Mr. and Mrs. N. S. Lett now live.” Today that is 119 Bridge Street.  One of the large maple trees the Dr. planted at the front corner of the house recently came down.

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Article from the Almonte Gazette, Thursday, November 18, 1971

The Doctors of Almonte … In the First Half of the Century – John F. Hanly, M. D. 1868-1927 from John Dunn.

Although I arrived in Almonte only near the end of Doctor Hanly’s career, we had a very close association nonetheless. My memory of it is but the clouded vision, but I have no doubt of the truth of it, for I have on the very best authority – the word of my mother.

There were three of us present – my mother, Doctor Hanly and myself, the last to arrive.
The doctor’s smart slap on my upturned posterior brought forth the response magnificent, the first human cry.

With that he ushered me on the stage in the theatre of life, and kindled for me a small new flame from the embers of  humanity. It was a familiar role for Jno. F. Hanly, M. D., in Almonte and district.

He was born in 1868 at Waubaushene, Ontario, where his father, also Dr. John Hanly, was the community doctor. Waubaushene, of course, is an Ojibway Indian name for the town in a jewel-like setting on the lower end of Georgian Bay. It looks out to the 30,000 islands which form the domain of Manitou, the Indian’s paradise, and to Manitoulin Island, the largest gem in this sea of islands. It is the land of a thousand delights, the last camping ground in a place where summer never ends.

Georgian Bay at this place is highly indented, with innumerable outcrop pings of rock, deep harbours, and sandy foreshore. Pine and spruce girdle the forested islands and outline the mainland. Lumbering was the principal occupation in the last decades
of the nineteenth century, and Doctor Hanly had a small wood-burning steam launch for travel to the remote camp sites.

Winter travel, of course, was much more arduous, frequently requiring long hours on snowshoes through the forest and along the shoreline. The younger John would accompany his father on these trips, and it was undoubtedly due to this
experience that, with an average stature, he developed a very powerful physique with thick torso and upper limbs. Undoubtedly it was there also that he developed a deep love of nature which remained a characteristic of him throughout his life. For in the
country of Manitou a man is neither landsman nor sea man exclusively: he must be at home on either rock or wave, where he can tune in to nature’s rhythms and feel its pulse in the slap-slap of water on keelson and fairing, the rising of the sun, and the slanting moonlight seeping through the snow-burdened spruce.

Doctor Hanly’s father was of Irish descent , but his mother was Pennsylvania Dutch. One wonders. Was this alliance of races a presage of the future direction and growth of the new Canadian nation? Did it suggest the Canadians would not build on the single basis of race common to many nations of the Old World, but that we would become a blend of many racial characteristics? One wonders.

With his father, travelling to the remote settlements around Georgian Bay, the future doctor learned a love of medicine, too. It was only natural, therefore, that he should be inclined to follow in his father’s footsteps after completing high school training at Orillia. He enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and graduated at the age of 23. He returned to work with his father for a short time in that strenuous practice among the islands before moving to Almonte in 1893.

J. R. Booth, the great lumber baron, had just completed his railway from Ottawa to Parry Sound ( the line through Carp) to gain access to the remote white pine country, so that he could ship out the timber to Ottawa where it could be rafted and then floated down river to Montreal and to Wolfe’s Cove at Quebec. Dr. Hanly decided to ship out for the Ottawa Valley, too, and to settle in Almonte, or “Little Manchester” as it was called, because the names Rosamond, Thoburn , Penman, Caldwell, and Campbell made its fame worldwide in the textile trade, and its population of mill operatives, weavers, spinners, millwrights,
labourers, moulders, dyers, carters, teamsters, watchmen, stone cutters, blacksmiths, painters, fullers, carders, spinsters and widows made a population where a doctor’s knowledge, skills, and energies could be spent in rewarding service to all the
members of such an interesting community.

But, before he left, the doctor found even a third love, his greatest. Almost immediately after graduation he enlisted for life-time service in matrimony in the company of Jean Elizabeth Kean, who attended high school at Orillia at the same time as he did. They moved into residence in Almonte in the house on Bridge Street now occupied by
Mr. and Mrs. Winston MacIntosh and family. Three children were born to their family; Arthur, Bruce and Lois. Bruce, the only surviving member of the family, now resides in Montreal.

An age passes almost imperceptibly, its passing only noticed some time later by the absence of some familiar thing, or a change in some mark or symbol of the age. Three small things distinguished the age of Doctor Hanly’s 35 years of medical service to the people of Almonte and district. First, there was the matter of signature, and then
the matter of the cane, and finally, the matter of animals in town.

“Jno. F. Hanly”. That’s the way he signed his name. It was typical of the age, this fore shortening of the Christian name. Business and professional men in Almonte and elsewhere used the apostolic abbreviations, Jas., Jno., Matt., Bart., Chris., and their Prophetic counterparts, Sam., Lem., Dan., and even those of saintly kings, Geo., Chas., and Wm. Most of these abbreviations have some element of logic in their use. Except Jno.
Why John should be reduced to Jno. has always been a mystery to me. But there it was, a mark of the time.

Another mark of the age was the cane, the gentleman’s walking stick. Doctor Hanly liked to carry a cane when walking and he had quite a collection. He used a gold-headed cane for Sundays, but his favourite was an Irish blackthorn which his great friend and neighbour, Father W. E. Cavanagh of St. Mary’s brought to him following a trip the priest had made to the Holy Land of Ireland.

Howard Sadler vividly recalls another mark of the times: the numbers and locations of horses and cows in Almonte. He and his father were fortunate to be able to gather the manure for their market gardening operations. Doctor Hanly always drove a big horse, for the doctor weighted more than 225 pounds, and only a high, strong, rangy horse could handle the job of pulling cutter and driver of that weight through the heavy snows. But the doctor had a manure box which was higher than the usual also, for it had a close-fitting glass top, and the strength of its contents on a warm day sometimes upset the sparrows in the street.

Externally, the age was many other things than those small familiar items in the woollen town on the Mississippi: – it was the first C.P.R. transcontinental train leaving Place Viger station in Montreal at 8:00 p.m., passing through Almonte at midnight, and arriving splendidly in Winnipeg for the Dominion Day celebration on July 1st; – it was
Laurier’s defeat on the reciprocity issue in 1911; – it was the discovery of radium and X-rays by Madame Curie and Professor Roentgen; – it was the shock wave of telegrams in 1914-1918: “It is with deep, regret that we must inform you that your son, Private …. has been killed in action on the western Front”; – it was the discovery of insulin by Toronto doctors Best and Banting; – it was, in the words of Professor A. R. M. Lower of Queen’s
University. “that delicious hesitation between the ox-cart and the automobile.”

But, regardless of advances in medical science and technology, to the doctors in the community of Almonte and its surrounding district, the person was the most important thong alive. Shortly, after his arrival, Dr. Hanly was working with Dr. Lynch, Dr. Kelly and Dr. Metcalfe to establish a hospital where they could provide the best of
what nursing science and medical skill could bring to their people in need. Their efforts culminated in the founding of the Cottage Hospital in 1903, and the Rosamond Memorial Hospital, which was officially opened by the Governor-General, Earl Grey, on New Year’s Day, 1908.

The doctor’s day was predictable only in the announced hours for office calls. I have one of Dr. Hanly’s notes on his letterhead which gives the office hours as 8-10 a.m., 1-3 p.m., and 7-9 p.m. In between, of course, were house calls, hospital rounds, study and travel time. It made for a fulsome day.

After his death many of Doctor Hanly’s medical books came into my father’s medical library. In one of these Doctor Hanly had made a set of notes under the heading “Hygiene of pregnancy”. He listed a number of items from (a) to (j) , including Diet, Exercise, Rest, and Clothing, etc. One item, however, is listed with unusual emphasis: it’s (f) “Mental Condition”.

In return for his concern, the community rewarded the doctor with its co-operation, both for his own needs and for those of his patients. Dr. Hanly would never hesitate to phone a druggist at any hour of the night if a prescription had to be made up in a hurry. And in the case of calls to the country in bad winter weather (which usually meant
at night), he would simply tell the telephone operator where he had to go. She would then wake up all the farmers along the route, and they would get out with heavy teams and sleighs to break a trail on the unplowed roads so that the doctor’s horse and cutter could get through.

When we think of representative Canadian sights and sounds, we often think of the long, lonesome note of the C.P.R. train whistle piercing the frost-filled prairie night, and the clouds of steam coughed out on the night air from the bowels of the locomotive. But equally Canadian was the sight of the doctor in his cutter, with snorts of breath from
his horse’s nostrils polishing the frost-etched moonbeams, and the cutter bells jingling to the rhythmic clop-clop of the horse’s hooves.

Doctor Hanly had a deep well of learning which he kept constantly primed with an insatiable curiosity. His office held an unusual glass case filled with many of his father’s medical instruments, which were somewhat crude even for the sophisticated 1920’s. But it also had a microscope, various reagents, alcohol burners, in fact, much the appearance
of a small pathological laboratory.

It was quite natural than that he should be asked to provide some direction to the community’s cultural endeavours also. It fitted his temperament admirably, and he devoted many years to the Library Board, the Board of Education, and the
Lanark County Educational Association. I have a penny post card dated Dec. 5, 1910 addressed to “Dr. Hanly, Town” which announced a meeting of the Board of Education to be held in the Council Chambers on Tuesday evening, Dec. 6 at 8:00 p.m.
“for the transaction of general business.” The notice concludes with a cautionary injunction: “Any trustee who absents himself from the meetings of the Board for three consecutive months, without being authorized by resolution entered upon its minutes, shall, ipso facto, vacate his seat and the remaining trustees shall declare his seat vacant and forthwith order a new election.”
James McLeod, Secretary.

All the civic virtues, and the pride and honour which attend them, are summed up in that injunction.

It’s the small things, and in the simple ways that a community finds its own heroes and awards them its own marks of excellence. The ancient Greeks gave hero-status to those who showed exceptional bravery in protecting the city. But, in the development days of our Ontario communities, the protection of the physical health and well-being of
the citizens was a matter of heroic proportions. One of the ways the community recognizes this importance is in the naming of children after its heroes. Howard Sadler’s eldest son was such a one – well, almost.

Two days after he was born, Doctor Hanly, making his rounds, inquired if a name had been chosen for the record of birth.

“Yes, Bruce”, was the answer.

“Well, I am pleased” said the doctor, thinking the baby was to be named after his own son, Bruce Hanly. Howard and Mrs. Sadler didn’t have the nerve to explain that the night before the baby’s arrival, Mrs. Sadler had been reading a story in a penny dreadful in which the major character was a full-blown top-gallant knave named Bruce, and that that was the source of the chosen name.

After the “flu epidemic of 1919”, Dr. Hanly’s health began to suffer. It was simply overwork, and the heart muscles could no longer stand the strain. He went, in due course, to consult the heart specialists in Toronto who advised him that total rest for six months was the only therapy.

It was during this time of anxiety that he used to walk down to the end of Colborne Street in the summer evenings, taking all the children of the neighbourhood as escorts, and they would sit on the stone wall there, looking out on Spring Bush, and the sunset over Gemmill’s Bay. It was a place where the ancient Greek philosopher’s elements, fire, air, earth and water, seemed to fuse together. One simple rule prevailed: absolute silence for fifteen or twenty minutes, for it was that solemn time of day which in English is called “the gloaming”, and in French, “le crepuscule”. It was the moment of juncture between earth, sun and sky, when the softness of the air disturbed only by the silent swish of
crows making wing to the distant wood, the swollen fruited hour when the swarming sun homes in to its hive in the horizon, and the very trees moan in the stillness.

It was the time of the afterglow when the sun stops momentarily in its headlong rush, turns back before crossing the threshold into night, and, smiling, flings its colours out on the summer sky, sending out golden tendrils to tie up some herring-bone
scarps of summer cloud. It was September’s crepuscular madness, and the doctor and the children would sit on the wall, drinking it in, soaking in the splendid silence.

Torn between concern for himself and concern for others, the doctor’s dilemma, Jno. F. Hanly’s answer came easily to him. Others came first.

Then it happened, even as he knew it would. It was Monday the last day in February, 1927. He had stopped at M. R. MacFarlane’s drug store (now Wilf Snedden’s) about 11:00 a.m. He spoke to a number of people between there and the Post Office (Don Campbell
was one of them), and then he drove home with the horse and cutter. He stepped out of the cutter at the door, collapsed and died on the spot.

The word ran like grassfire along the pathways of Almonte.
“Doctor Hanly’s dead.”
“What’s that?”
“Doctor Hanly’s dead.”
“Oh no, I was talking to him only an hour ago.”
When a general dies, an army mourns. The regimental band, dressed in black, with muffled drums and muted clarinets, plays the Dead march from Saul, while comrades in slow march, with arms reversed, accompany the flag-draped coffin of their hero
strapped to an artillery caisson. The general’s horse, rider less, fully caparisoned, follows. At the sombre tomb, the firing party’s rifle volley barks out a clamour to admit the soldier-hero.

Almonte too mourned its loss. Its grief was open and deep. The funeral was held on Wednesday of that week. Schools were closed. The Mayor and Council, members of the Board of education, the Library Board, the Lanark County Educational Association, the
medical fraternity of Almonte and Carleton Place, the teaching staffs of the schools, all joined as the cortege wound its way from the house on Bridge Street to Bethany United Church for the service conducted by Rev. J. R. MacCrimmon. Pallbearers were
T. J. Reid, Henry Brown, D. J. Dick, M. R. McFarlane, W. West and Adam Craig.

Through the town the solemn procession went, down Mill Street, past Gemmill’s Bay Hill, and on to the pine-shrouded resting place in the Auld Kirk Cemetery. As the cortege passed all the blinds on places of business were drawn as a mark of respect. Men stood mute in their grief, silent as statues. Women wept openly. Thirty-five years he had spent among them, a comfort to the afflicted, a restorer of injured health to many, and to all a physician, friend and counsellor.

And so Jno. F. Hanly, M. D. passed over also, and came to the other side, where he found himself in the Enchanted Isles of the Blest, and where he found many old friends dwelling. And they greeted him warmly, welcoming him to their company,
because they said, his arrival had been so unexpected.

John Dunn – November, 1971- Almonte Gazette


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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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