GOOD, JAMES WILFORD, physician, professor, and health officer; b. December 1852 in Kincardine, Upper Canada, son of John Good and Isabella Anderson; d. unmarried 1 Sept. 1926 in Vancouver, and was buried in Brandon, Man.
James Wilford Good graduated mb in 1877 from Trinity Medical School, Toronto, and took postgraduate medical studies in Edinburgh. In 1879 he went to Winnipeg and became associated with James Robert Jones, a physician and neurologist. Appointed a physician at the Winnipeg General Hospital and at the Hôpital de Saint-Boniface, Good would later practise general surgery at those hospitals. After studying diseases of the eyes, ears, nose, and throat in Vienna, he became the first ophthalmologist to practise in western Canada. From about 1893 to 1897 he would be associated in a private ophthalmological practice with Gordon Bell.
In 1883 Good was a founding member of the Manitoba Medical College in Winnipeg and that same year he became professor of clinical surgery and lecturer in ophthalmology and otology there. Four years later he succeeded Dr James Kerr as dean of the college; he held the post to 1898. In 1890 he had been named second vice-president of a committee convened to form a provincial medical association. The actual formation of the association would be delayed until 8 Oct. 1908.
In 1898, during the gold rush in the Yukon, Good left for Dawson. He established a practice there and later the board of health, chaired by his friend Superintendent Samuel Benfield Steele* of the North-West Mounted Police, appointed him medical health officer for the town and inspector for the Lower Yukon district. Along with Dr Alfred Thompson and the Reverend Andrew Shaw Grant, who was also a physician, he tackled the problems of typhoid fever and scurvy that were rampant in the area. The doctors serviced St Mary’s Hospital, the Good Samaritan Hospital, which Grant had founded, and the mounted police hospital. From time to time members of the Victorian Order of Nurses from nearby Fort Selkirk were called in to assist them.
Good returned to practise ophthalmology in Winnipeg on 16 Dec. 1900 and became associated with Dr Thomas Turnbull. He resumed teaching at the Manitoba Medical College, where he was professor of theoretical ophthalmology and otology. His lectures and clinics were said to be entertaining and combined practical knowledge with anecdotes from his long experience. They were presented solemnly, but also contained some sparkling wit. A humorist, Good gave public lectures at the medical college and frequently spoke at student banquets.
At the start of World War I, Good was deemed too old to be in active service, but he circumvented this obstacle by accepting a post under the French Red Cross and served at the Ulster Volunteer Hospital in Paris in 1916. After six months he returned to Winnipeg. He then went overseas again in 1917 as a specialist with the honorary rank of major in the Canadian Army Medical Corps and was posted to a surgical centre specializing in facial wounds at Westcliffe, England.
Throughout his life Good had travelled widely. In addition to Europe and South America, he visited India, where he observed Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Smith perform cataract surgery at Jullundur. He later invited Smith to demonstrate his cataract operation at the Winnipeg General Hospital. With the discovery of radium treatment for cancer [see William Henry Beaufort Aikins], he purchased a supply of radium and treated laryngeal cancer, the first to do so in western Canada.
After visiting the Calgary Stampede, Good took up horseback riding, dressed as a cowboy. To maintain his physique he began boxing and hired a former prizefighter as a sparring partner; on receiving a heavy punch that knocked him out and prevented him from working for a week, he gave up this athletic pursuit. Later, he played golf with two sets of clubs, right- and left-handed. He would alternate with each stroke, stating that he had more balanced exercise for his muscles while golfing in this manner. He also played billiards.
In 1921 Good moved to Vancouver. He had accumulated considerable wealth and after his death five years later it was distributed to the sanatorium in Ninette, Man., the Children’s Home of Winnipeg, and a senior citizens’ home. Good Street in Winnipeg was named in his honour.
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (Winnipeg), Record of registration, 1878. Man., Legislative Library (Winnipeg), Biog. scrapbooks. Univ. of Manitoba, Faculty of Medicine Arch. (Winnipeg), 21.2.3 (Manitoba Medical College founders); 21.9, J. W. Good file. Univ. of Manitoba Libraries, Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library (Winnipeg), L. G. Bell, “Fox Lake: an informal history” (typescript, Winnipeg, n.d.). Manitoba Free Press, 20 May 1890, 17 Jan. 1917. E. M. Peplow, “Winnipeg’s first medical specialist,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 Dec. 1938. Harry Shave, “Early doctor, pioneer banker,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 May 1963. Winnipeg Free Press, 16 Dec. 1960. Jack Bennest, “Dr. James Wilford Good, m.d.: the west’s first eye specialist,” Generations (Winnipeg), 21 (September 1996), no.3: 6. Can., North-West Mounted Police, Report (Ottawa), 1900, app.G. A. J. Douglas, “Dr. J. W. Good,” Univ. of Manitoba Medical Journal (Winnipeg), 1 (1929-30): 150-51. C. C. Ferguson, One hundred years of surgery, 1883-1983: professors of surgery, the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, 1983). J. J. Heagerty, Four centuries of medical history in Canada and a sketch of the medical history of Newfoundland (2v., Toronto, 1928). Ross Mitchell, Medicine in Manitoba; the story of its beginnings ([Winnipeg, 1955?]). E. W. Montgomery, “J. W. Good, the most unforgettable character I have known,” Manitoba Medical Rev. (Winnipeg), 23 (February 1943): 33-37. S. B. Steele, Forty years in Canada: reminiscences of the great north-west . . . , ed. M. G. Niblett (Toronto and London, 1915; repr. 1972). J. O. Todd, “Doctor J. W. Good and Manitoba Medical College,” Univ. of Manitoba Quarterly (Winnipeg), 2, no.1 (December 1927): 31-32. Univ. of Manitoba, The centennial program, 1883-1983, the Manitoba Medical College, 1883-1919, becoming the faculty of medicine, the University of Manitoba, 1919-1983 ([Winnipeg], 1983).