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MACK, THEOPHILUS, physician, professor, and founder of a school of nursing; b. 22 April 1820 in Dublin (Republic of Ireland), son of the Reverend Frederick Mack and Frances Lendrum; m. 10 July 1845 Catherine Jane Adams, daughter of Elias Smith Adams, the first mayor of St Catharines, Canada West; d. 24 Oct. 1881 in St Catharines.

Theophilus Mack arrived in Canada with his family in 1829 and was one of the first pupils enrolled in Upper Canada College. During the rebellion of 1837 he served for 18 months as a lieutenant in the navy. He then studied medicine under George Grassett in the military hospital at Amherstburg, Essex County, where his father was chaplain to the garrison. He graduated from Geneva College in New York State in 1843 with the degree of md and was qualified for practice by the Medical Board of Canada West in April of that year.

Following graduation he settled in St Catharines where the many Irish labourers engaged in enlarging the Wetland Canal promised a successful medical practice. In addition, he served as professor of materia medica for three sessions at the Buffalo Medical College but declined a permanent appointment because of the inconvenience of travelling from his residence in St Catharines. Augustus Jukes*, who went on to become inspector general of hospitals in Canada, was a student of Mack’s from 1846 to 1849.

Mack claimed to be the first doctor in Canada West to specialize in the treatment of diseases of women. In order to do internal examinations he designed a speculum and had it made by a local tinsmith. An eminent American gynæcologist, Dr James Marion Sims, commented favourably on the design during a visit to Canada in 1852. Mack’s interest in gynæcologist conditions led to meetings with Sir James Young Simpson of Edinburgh and Sir James Paget of London. Mack also presented papers to the St Catharines Medical Society for Mutual Improvement dealing with gynæcologist conditions including dilatation, incision, and division of the cervix uteri and excision of the neck of the uterus. In 1862 he reported performing 100 operations without complications.

In 1859 he had visited London where he was impressed by Florence Nightingale’s nursing school. Following his return to Canada, he had made several attempts to establish a hospital for sailors and travellers to combat the great prejudice against publicly operated hospitals. However, he was not successful until 1865 when he founded the St Catharines General and Marine Hospital (after 1911 the St Catharines General Hospital) which contained 20 beds. Using his own funds Mack successfully overcame the prejudice against public hospitals by providing professional nurses. In 1873 he started the St Catharines Training School and Nurses Home (later the Mack Training School for Nurses) in association with the hospital, the first nursing school in Canada to operate under the Nightingale system. To further this enterprise he sent Miss Money, a nurse, to England, and the following year she returned with two trained nurses and five probationary nurses. The first class graduated in 1879 and the school has continued to this time.

In addition to his medical and teaching activities, Mack with the assistance of Eleazer Williams Stephenson* developed the potential of the mineral waters of St Catharines. During the War of 1812 a well had been dug to provide a local salt supply and Mack felt the saline water had medicinal qualities. In the 1850s he and Stephenson founded a thermal establishment, Springbank, in St Catharines, consisting of a hotel and sanitarium which attracted many patients.

At various times Mack served as president of the board and physician, as well as manager and consulting physician of the St Catharines General and Marine Hospital. He also served intermittently as coroner and water commissioner for St Catharines. Mack added to the knowledge of Ontario physicians concerning the treatment of obstetrical and gynæcologist conditions, but his major contribution to Canadian medicine was the organization of a professional training school for nurses.

Charles M. Godfrey

Canada Lancet (Toronto), 14 (1881–82): 93, 96. Canada directory, 1857–58. Canadian biog. dict., I: 218–21. Illustrated historical atlas of the counties of Lincoln & Wetland, Ont. (Toronto, 1876; repr. Port Elgin, Ont., 1971). Lovell’s Canadian dominion directory, 1871. The Ontario medical register . . . (Toronto), 1878. William Canniff, The medical profession in Upper Canada, 17831850 . . . (Toronto, 1894). J. M. Gibbon and M. S. Mathewson, Three centuries of Canadian nursing (Toronto, 1947). M. A. Nutting and L. L. Dock, A history of nursing . . . (4v., New York and London, 1907–12). Ont., Dept. of Health, Hospitals Division, The hospitals of Ontario: a short history, comp. A. A. Allan (Toronto, 1934). J. L. Runnalls et al., A century with the StCatharines General Hospital (St Catharines, Ont., 1974). StCatharines centennial history, [comp. V. C. Jones and Harold Meighan] (St Catharines, 1967).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Charles M. Godfrey, “MACK, THEOPHILUS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed December 25, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mack_theophilus_11E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mack_theophilus_11E.html
Author of Article: Charles M. Godfrey
Title of Article: MACK, THEOPHILUS
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1982
Year of revision: 1982
Access Date: December 25, 2014