Profiling: Dr TWG McKay

Thomas Wills Gibbs McKay was born on March 8, 1873 at the McKay family home in Oshawa. His parents were Donald H. McKay and Mary Elizabeth Gibbs, cousin of William and Thomas Gibbs.

Donald (known to the family as Daniel), had a successful career with the Denny & Company Marine Engineers and had sailed with the Merchant Marines until he was struck by cholera in Calcutta, India in 1868. He sailed to Canada in 1869 and worked for the Joseph Hall Iron Works as an engineer, building engines for printing machinery. Later he worked for the Universal Knitting Mills in Toronto. The family lived there, at 19 Gloucester Street, from 1886 until Donald’s death in 1911.

His mother, Mary Elizabeth Gibbs came to Oshawa with her father, Philip Gibbs in 1859. They were located close to her cousins T.N. and W.H. Gibbs in the village of Harmony.

Thomas attended Centre Street School in Oshawa during his early years and obtained a medical degree from the University of Toronto in 1896, winning the George Brown Scholarship and was a Starr gold medalist. That same year, he began practicing medicine with Dr. Francis Rae. He was also an examiner in primary anatomy for the Ontario Medical Council, associate examiner in clinical surgery and Medical Officer of Health in Oshawa from 1905 – 1945.


Early in his career Dr. McKay married Alice Adella Drew, a Toronto General Hospital nursing graduate, on April 4, 1902. It was at this time that he built their family home, a three-storey brick house at 58 King Street West, on the northeast corner of King Street and Victoria Street. They had three sons; Donald Drew, Wilson Gibbs and Ian Blake. The family also had a cottage on Lake Mississauga near Buckhorn, Ontario, and they spent much of their time there. After Alice died in 1933, McKay married her sister, Ina Estella Drew, in 1938.

Dr. McKay travelled throughout the community to houses and schools campaigning for issues such as inoculations and clean water. He was instrumental (along with Dr. D.S. Hoig) in establishing the health program in Oshawa’s schools.  Dr. McKay’s granddaughter, Adella McKay (Wilson Gibbs daughter) has said that her Grandfather was often paid in chickens and farm produce, if at all! This may be why they lost their Victorian home on King Street.

Photo from

Dr. TWG McKay died at the family home in Harmony on March 12, 1945. He is buried in the Gibbs-McKay-Drew plot at Union Cemetery.

Learn more about Community Health in the 20th Century by visiting our latest feature exhibit! Visit soon because it will close later this month!



Oshawa Museum Archival Collection. McKay genealogy files.
French, Olive. Unpublished Manuscript. 1967.

Student Museum Musings – Lauren

By Lauren R., Summer Museum Assistant

Hello there! I’d like to start out this blog post by saying how excited I am to be working as a summer student for the second year in a row. I am already at the end of my third week back at work and it feels as though I’ve picked up right where I left off at the end of last summer. This summer I am once again having the pleasure of being involved with numerous projects, including two larger projects that are a constant work in progress. Trust me – it’s keeping me on my toes!

Lauren assisting with silver polishing earlier this month

The first of the projects that I have undertaken this summer has to do with the Education Kits that the museum offers as resources to schools to enrich the learning experience for students. While these programs are very useful it was put to me that we may be able to do more with them. Specifically, that there may be more of them! With this in mind, I am helping to look at new ways to present the material that we already have and at how to make more of these kits available for teacher use, bridging a vast range of topics. In my first few days back on the job full-time I went through each of the kits, reading all of the information that they had to offer and then examining their complementary artefacts. From there I made it my goal to read several books on programming to see if there was anything that they could offer me to enrich the way that I was looking to construct the programs. After all of this research, I had the pleasure of joining one of my colleagues at a school to see how these outreach kits work in person and the response that they produced from students. Thus far I have come up with 7 new programs that can be introduced to our selection of Education Kits. I am going to endeavour to make each of these 7 kits flexible so that they can be used by both older and younger grades, bringing the count of new education kits to 14!

The second thing that I have been engaged in this summer is research for the new Medical Exhibit being created! For this I have been hard at work reading up on the history of the Oshawa General Hospital and how it came to be. So far I am finding the story fascinating! The original building for the Oshawa Hospital came about as the result of the hard work of a group of determined women. In 1906, the debt of the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was cleared with the work of some of the local women’s societies. Seeing that their work had been completed, and that they could focus their attention on a new and worthy cause, Mrs. R.S. McLaughlin gathered a representative from each of the local societies to vote on the next cause that should be attended to. The cause that was chosen was the Oshawa General Hospital. In 1906 the campaigning for the hospital began and it was built soon after and opened in 1910. I have absolutely fallen in love with the story of how the Oshawa General Hospital came to be. It highlights the great things that can be accomplished when a group of strong-minded and determined people come together for the greater good. I look forward to learning more about each bit of Oshawa’s medical history as I strive to construct an interesting and engaging exhibit around it, though it is proving difficult to narrow down what fascinating facts to include when there is so much interesting information at hand!

There have been many more interesting things I have been doing but there will be another blog post for me to talk about those. For now I work diligently at the Medical Exhibit and wait with baited breath to see it come to reality…

Llewellyn Hall

By Melissa Cole, Curator

“Formerly the residence of Mr. R.S. McLaughlin and became the possession of the Foreign Mission Board in the year 1919.  It was known as Llewellyn Hall and the name continued.  It is a two and a half storey brick building, on one of the best residential streets in the Town.  It has beautiful grounds, magnificent trees and tennis court, and is artistically finished within as well as attractive without.”

~The Second Prospectus, 1924 Llewellyn Hall

Opening in the fall of 2018 at the Oshawa Museum will be an exhibition that looks at Community Health in the 20th Century: An Oshawa Perspective.   What does Llewellyn Hall have to do with community health?  It was utilized for a brief time as Oshawa’s Maternity Ward.

The home was ordered to be built by James Odgers Guy who was a coal dealer in Oshawa.  He resided in this home with his wife Rachel and their children.  The name of the home was Llewellyn Hall, in memory of a son named Llewellyn Harold who had passed away.  They lived in the home until 1897.

James Odgers Guy
James O. Guy

Robert Samuel McLaughlin of Tyrone purchased the home from the Guys.  Robert lived in the home with his wife Adelaide and all five daughters, Eileen, Mildred, Isobel, Hilda and Eleanor were born there.  This was the McLaughlin Family home until 1917, when they moved into Parkwood Estate.

Robert and Adelaide McLaughlin, under the names of the McLaughlin Carriage Company, the McLaughlin Motor Car Company and Chevrolet Motor Car Company of Canada, gifted their home to the Oshawa General Hospital, for $1, to be used as a maternity hospital.

Adelaide McLaughlin, who was president of the Hospital Auxiliary, stated at the formal opening of the maternity hospital that she hoped “all future mothers in this house may be as happy as I was when here”.  Inspector of Hospitals, Dr. Helen McMurchie of the Ministry of Health for the Province of Ontario stated that “every hospital must have a satisfactory maternity wing and Oshawa has successfully followed this direction”.

Maternity Home

The first baby girl was born the day it formally opened on Wednesday July 12 at 1917, delivered to a Mrs. F. Patfield by Dr. F.J Rundle.  In 1918, the Spanish Flu swept through the Maternity Ward.  It was reported that ninety-five percent of the babies in the Ward passed away.

One of the last babies to be born at the Maternity Ward was in 1919 before it was sold to the Presbyterian Church in Canada to be a home for children in missionary families of the United Church of Canada.  For the next twenty-nine years, Adelaide McLaughlin offered her support through various means, financially, socially and advisory to the residents, Matrons and staff.

The final years of Lewellyn Hall were spent as the location of education and worship, after being purchased in 1948, by the Oshawa Hebrew Congregation, known as the Beth Zion Synagogue.  By 1952 the number Jewish families in Oshawa outgrew the space and the building was torn down to build a new synagogue, which still stands today.

This house nurtured many lives that crossed it’s threshold.  Built for the Guy Family and for fifteen years it was home to Colonel Sam and Adelaide McLaughlin and their five daughters and it was a home for Protestant missionary children and before its end was the core for education and worship.

Dr. Jane Plews Thornton 1832-1904

By Laura Suchan, Executive Director

Before female doctors Emily Stowe and  Jennie Trout practiced medicine, there was Oshawa’s own Dr. Jane Mary Plews. Born in Ontario about 1832, Dr. Plews practiced medicine before the establishment of the (Canadian) Women’s Medical College in 1883. She practiced eclectic medicine, a branch of medicine which made use of botanical remedies and was popular during the 19th century. The term eclectic was derived from the Greek word eklego, meaning “to choose from” because eclectic physicians used whatever was found to be most beneficial to their patients. Dr. Plews started studies at the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati, Ohio  during the winter term of 1855-56 and graduated in 1856.

Jan 1, 1862 Vindicator ad.JPG

Little else is known about Dr. Plews’ medical career. In the 1861 Canadian census, Dr. Plews was shown as living in Oshawa and stated her occupation as a physician. I find this census information to be intriguing given that the census taker was most likely a male who obviously accepted that the woman answering the question of “what is your occupation?” was indeed a physician. Remember this is before women were accepted into the established medical colleges and six years before Emily Stowe began to practice medicine. In the January 1, 1862 edition of The Oshawa Vindicator,  an ad for Dr. Plews M.D was placed prominently on the front page alongside ads for (male) Drs. Foote, Warren, Tempest and Agnew.  Dr. Plews’ ad gave special notice that she specialized in diseases of women. Dr. Plews’ medical career was also noted in the Progressive Annual 1862, a spiritual register, almanac and calendar of events, which listed her as a practicing woman physician in nearby Bowmanville. She is also listed in the subsequent annuals of 1863 and 1864. The Progressive Annual proudly stated that it only lists regularly graduated and diplomatized physicians engaged in practice. Although the Annual noted that their list of practicing women physicians was “the most complete ever published” it was most likely not inclusive. It deserves mention that Dr. Plews was the only Canadian amongst all the names.  I am confident Dr. Plews was quite proud of her listing in the Annual because she was in good company for the Annual also contained the names of other forward-thinking individuals such as Harriet Beecher Stowe (Literature, Morals and General Education) and Susan B. Anthony (Freedom and Equality of the Sexes).

In 1867 she married Patrick Thornton, a machinist, and they had one child, Frederick born about 1877.  Husband Patrick died in 1880 from consumption and was buried in Oshawa’s Union Cemetery.  Jane and son Patrick are listed in the 1891 census however there is no occupation listed for her. By 1901, Jane was a lodger in the household of Fanny Pethick, also of Oshawa.  Jane passed away from a stroke in 1904 and was laid to rest alongside her husband in Union Cemetery.


It is unfortunate we do not know how long Dr. Plews’ medical career lasted. After the 1861 census, she no longer listed her occupation as physician and with the scarcity of Oshawa newspapers in existence for the 1860s, we have no indication of how long she ran her ad in the newspapers. For now, we will have to say that the rest of Dr. Plews’ story remains to be told.

Dr. D.S. Hoig


By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist; originally written for the Oshawa Express, 2011.

Oshawa’s longest serving medical doctor was born in Rochester, New York, to Scottish parents on October 28, 1853.  He was the youngest child in a large family and the only one not born in Scotland.

When Dr. David Scott Hoig’s parents immigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto, he moved to Oshawa to live with his sister and attended the Centre School as a child. He went on to pursue a medical degree and graduated from the University of Toronto in 1880. Following an internship with the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, Dr. Hoig returned to Oshawa where he set up his private practice, first at 7 Athol Street, then in his home at 245 Simcoe Street North.

In 1885, Dr. Hoig married Alice Loscomb and together they had two daughters, Marjorie and Dorothy.

Oshawa Hospital staff, 1910.  Dr. Hoig is second from left, front row.

Dr. Hoig was not only a dedicated doctor he was also actively involved in community activities. He was an engaged board member for the Board of Education for 20 years and the Library for 15 years. He was instrumental in the founding of the Oshawa General Hospital and served as the medical superintendent there for 25 years. In 1933, following his retirement from private practice after 53 years he  changed gears and held the position of medical examiner for an insurance company.

Dr. Hoig’s interest in literature inspired him to publish many of his observations and experiences in Oshawa in his book Reminiscences and Recollections.  He describes this work as “an interesting pen picture of early days, characters and events in Oshawa.”  Reminiscences and Recollections includes anecdotes on well known prominent citizens of Oshawa and their families, such as the Farewells and the Gibbs. It also outlines brief histories on Oshawa’s industries, including the McLaughlin Carriage Company, R.S Williams Piano Factory, and Joseph Hall Works. His passion for education is reflected in his chapters on the Demille College and Bishop Bethune College.

Dr. D.S. Hoig, from A History of the Medical Profession of the County of Ontario, 1934

Dr. Hoig’s passion for medicine remained steadfast until the day of his death in 1939. He still held the position of Dean of the Ontario County Medical Profession when he passed.

Saturday, October 1 is Doors Open Oshawa! The theme for 2016 is Medical Science and Innovation.  Henry House is open from 12-4pm where we will have a pop-up exhibit on Oshawa’s Medical History!


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