39. Thomas Hodgkin. 1798-1866. Health advocate for Manitoba

P. Warren


CanMEDS 2005 includes health advocate. Pertinently Michel Foucault wrote “The first task of the doctor is therefore political…Man will be totally and definitively cured only if first liberated.” No one exemplified this more than Thomas Hodgkin widely known for his eponymous disease. What is less known is his unceasing work, as a Quaker, for aboriginal people around the world. He was secretary of the Aboriginal Protection Society. He had been interested in Canada since meeting John Norton, as a teenager. His involvement in the plight of Canada’s Indians may have cost him a staff position at Guy’s Hospital; the Treasurer, Benjamin Harrison, is quoted as saying “he would have no officer of the hospital who drove about with a North American Indian in his carriage.” Hodgkin played an active role in the history of Manitoba. His friend Dr Richard King undertook expeditions in Western Canada to find Sir John Franklin corresponded with Hodgkin on his anthropological observations on the Aboriginals and the treatment of them by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). Hodgkin campaigned actively about the management of the Manitoba aboriginals by the HBC. The presentation will illustrate this with excerpts from his letters to Sir George Simpson, Governor HBC, from Captain Kennedy who also sought Franklin and the archives of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba. He presented evidence to the House of Commons as HBC was ceded to Canada. As editor of the Colonial Intelligencer he wrote much on Manitoba and received a letter from Louis Riel. Hodgkin was passionately committed to ensure that people were free both politically and economically.
Foucault M. The Birth of the Clinic. Archaeology of Medical Perception. trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.
Wilks S, Bettany GT. A Biographical History of Guy’s Hospital. London: Ward, Lock and Co., 1892.
Kass AM, Kass EH. Perfecting the World. The Life and Times of Dr. Thomas Hodgkin 1798-1866. Boston: Harcourt Brace Johanovich Publishers, 1988.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25011/cim.v30i4.2799


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