CRAIGIE, WILLIAM, physician and educationist; baptized 11 March 1799 at Belnaboth, parish of Towie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the son of William Craigie and May Ness; m. Mary Campbell, and they had nine children; d. 10 Aug. 1863 at Hamilton, Canada West.
William Craigie studied at Marischal and Aberdeen colleges in Aberdeen, the University of Edinburgh, and Trinity College, Dublin. In 1820 he became a licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and established a medical practice at Midclova in the parish of Kildrummy, Aberdeenshire. He published in 1828 a paper on tracheotomy in the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal.
Craigie immigrated to Upper Canada in 1834 and settled in Ancaster. After successfully appearing before the Medical Board of Upper Canada in April 1835, he was licensed to practise medicine. Soon after he arrived he also began working for the improvement of education and joined with others to found a school, the Ancaster Literary Institution, which opened in 1837. They hoped to provide a better quality of education than that available in the common schools. Craigie was secretary of the institution and corresponded with the council of King’s College and later the Committee of Commissioners on Education seeking financial support for the school. In a submission to a committee appointed by Lieutenant Governor Sir George Arthur* to investigate education in the province, he advocated in 1839 a normal school for the training of teachers, provincial funding of education, and the establishment of village common and district grammar schools with varied curricula which would include reading, writing, arithmetic, classics, modern languages, and mathematics. He also proposed adequate salaries and superannuation for teachers, good Canadian textbooks, non-denominational religious instruction, and a central board of education for Canada West with subsidiary boards for each municipal district.
In 1845 he moved to Hamilton where he soon became a leader in educational, cultural, and scientific affairs. As school trustee he was largely responsible for the opening in 1853 of the Hamilton Central School despite strong opposition from William Munson Jarvis and the Reverend John Gamble Geddes who favoured establishing common schools in each ward. Craigie organized in 1850 the Hamilton Horticultural Society, an offshoot of the mechanics’ institute, of which he was a director. He was a member of the Board of Arts and Manufactures for Upper Canada and an elder of the Presbyterian Church. The meteorological records he had kept since coming to Canada were published in Canadian periodicals, and he contributed monthly meteorological reports to the Hamilton Spectator for a number of years. In 1854 he published a list of indigenous plants of the Hamilton area, a pioneer effort compiled for the Hamilton Scientific Association of which he was first recording secretary.
Dr Craigie was popular and respected both as a scholar and as a physician, and in 1861 he was appointed medical referee for the Canada Life Assurance Company. He was one of the attending physicians at the deathbed of Sir Allan Napier MacNab just a year before his own death in 1863. He appears in a contemporary cartoon, “A Grave Scene,” which depicts the struggle of the Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy over MacNab’s body; Craigie is shown in the eccentric garb he wore in later years and with the “twa dogs” who were always at his heels.
William Craigie was the author of “Case in which tracheotomy was successfully performed,” Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, 29 (1828), 83–85; “Mean results for each month of eleven years, (1835 to 1845 inclusive), of a register of the thermometer and barometer, kept at Ancaster, C.W.,” British American Journal of Medical and Physical Science (Montreal), II (1846–47), 7–9; “Meteorological observations at Hamilton,” Canadian Journal, II (1853–54), 187–88; and “List of indigenous plants found in the neighbourhood of Hamilton, with the dates of their being found in flower and examined,” Canadian Journal, III (1854–55), 222–23. Documentary history of education in U.C. (Hodgins), III. “The late Dr. Craigie,” Canadian Illustrated News (Hamilton, [Ont.]), II (1863), 174–75. Morgan, Bibliotheca Canadensis. Canniff, Medical profession in U.C. Hamilton Assoc. for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art, 100th anniversary, 1857–1957 (Hamilton, Ont., ). Hamilton Horticultural Soc., Centennial yearbook and garden guide, 1850–1950 (Hamilton, Ont., 1950). J. G. Hodgins, The establishment of schools and colleges in Ontario, 1792–1910 (3v., Toronto, 1910), I. J. H. Smith, The Central School jubilee re-union, August, 1903, an historical sketch (Hamilton, Ont., 1905). Hamilton Spectator, 19 June 1909.