Contact us

Homeopathy in Canada: A Synopsis
by Fernando Ania, N.D., H.D.

In 1996 we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of homeopathy. In 1796 after six years of experimentation, Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, published his findings in a German medical journal. Since then, homeopathy has expanded throughout the entire world, having had its splendor at the beginning of the 20th century in Philadelphia and the East coast of the United States.

By 1892, the USA had over four hundred state and county associations (Bradford, 1892), and by 1912, there were one hundred and ninety-five homeopathic hospitals, nine of which had over one thousand beds (Cleave, 1912). With immigrants coming into Canada and Canadians traveling to the USA, the enormous homeopathic influence in the USA soon reached Canada. An immigrant most likely from the Netherlands, Dr. J. 0. Rosenstein, is recorded as practicing homeopathy in 1845, in Montreal, Quebec (Epps,1845).

In 1846, Rosenstein published what may be the first Canadian book on homeopathy (Rosenstein, 1846). Before Rosenstein, Arthur Fisher, M.D. was practicing homeopathy in Montreal. Dr. Fisher and Dr. Rosenstein may have been the first homeopathic doctors practicing in Canada. Joseph J. Lancaster (1813-1884) was practicing homeopathy in Norwich, Ontario in 1846 (Campbell, 1892), and then in London, Ontario in 1848. He went to the U.S.A. to further his studies in homeopathy and graduated from the Philadelphia Homeopathic College in 1857 (Cleave, 1873). Dr. Lancaster was one of the first doctors to use disinfectants and when the cholera epidemic reached London, Ontario, he suggested using disinfectants to control it. Despite the opposition of orthodox physicians, the Board of Health acted on his advice and the epidemic was contained.

Dr. Lancaster was the first practicing homeopath in Ontario and in 1850, he committed himself to having Homeopathy regulated. In 1859, supported by 1,812 signatures, Mr. Asa Howard petitioned the legislative Assembly of Upper Canada to recognize Homeopathy (SUC, 1859). On May 4, 1859, the bill known as "An Act Respecting Homeopathy" was enacted and the Homeopathic Medical Board of Upper Canada was established (CSUC, 1859). A three year full time programme was required to practice as a homeopathic doctor. Dr. Lancaster served as secretary-treasurer of the Homeopathic Board from 1859 to 1868. The position was shared with J. Adams of Toronto who served on the Board from 1859 to 1869. Its president was Dr. D. Campbell (1859-69). Other members were: A.T. Bull, London (1859-65), A. Greenleat Hamilton (1859-61), J. Hall, Toronto (1859-63), Thos. Nichol, Belleville (1861-65), 0. C. Field, Woodstock (1863-69), W. Springer, Ingersoll (1865-69), and J. W. Fergusson, Hamilton (1865-69).
Prior to "An Act Respecting Homeopathy", the Homeopathic Medical Society of Canada was formed on February 6, 1854 in Hamilton and the following executives were elected (Lillie,1855): A. Fisher, M.D., Montreal, C. E., President; A. Wolverton, M.D., Hamilton, C.W., 1st Vice-President; J. Lancaster, Eden Vale, 2nd Vice-President; W. Greenleat, M.D., St. Catharines, Secretary and Treasurer; A.T. Bull, M.D., London, J. C. Peterson, M.D., Hamilton, and G.W. Campbell, M.D., Siddlesville, (Censors); Wm. Springer, M.D., Hamilton, Corresponding Secretary.
In 1865, "An Act to Regulate the Qualifications of Practitioners in Medicine and Surgery in Upper Canada" was proclaimed (CSUC,1865). A clause in this act prohibited any repeal or action that would in anyway affect the Homeopathic Act of 1859 and the Eclectic Act of 1861. In 1866, "An Act Respecting The Medical Board and Medical Practitioners" authorized the formation of a licensing Board for conventional doctors, exempting homeopaths and midwives. As a consequence of these two acts, the Council of Education and Registration of Upper Canada was established in 1866, with the authority to grant licenses to practice medicine in Upper Canada. Dr. Campbell appeared at the first meeting of the Council, as the representative of the Homeopathic Board, but was not received.

Confrontations between conventional and homeopathic schools of thought had always existed and so it took three years of consultations among the interested groups to reach an agreement. Finally, in 1869, the Ontario Medical Act was passed (SUP 1869), which integrated allopaths, homeopaths and eclectics in a provincial body, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). The integration of three different systems of medicine within the same regulatory body was quite unique, unlike the situations in other countries, such as the United States and England, where confrontations were routine. In the States, an allopathic doctor could lose his or her license just by consulting with a homeopath regarding a patient (Coulter, 1982).

When the Queen of England requested that one of the court physicians attend Sir William Jenner, the physician alleged that it was unethical for him to treat a patient who was under the care of a homeopath and the Queen was denied her request.
In the first election of the CPSO in June 1869, its governing body, the Medical Council, was formed. One physician was elected from each of the twelve territorial divisions of the province: one physician represented each of the five universities and medical schools, five were chosen from the eclectics and five from the homeopaths. In 1869, the elected homeopaths for the Council were: D. Campbell, G. C. Field, H. C. Allen, J. Adams, and Wm. Springer. Other homeopathic doctors elected president of the council in the last century were: O. Logan (1883-84) and C. Henderson (1887).
The eminent Dr. Duncan Campbell served the Council from its inception in 1869 to 1878. He was born in Argyllshire, Scotland in 1811, studied in Caan, France and later at the University of Edinburgh, from which he graduated in 1833. He immigrated to Canada in 1834 and served as surgeon in one of the battalions in 1837. At the close of the rebellions, he settled in Hamilton, then moved to Niagara and in 1858, settled in Toronto. Dr. Campbell is recorded as the first doctor using anesthesia in Upper Canada (Ontario today) on May 31, 1848 (Colbeck).

Dr. Duncan Campbell was elected vice-president of the Council in 1872 and again in 1877; however, it was not until 1878, that Campbell was elected president of the CPSO Council. Grievances between allopaths and homeopaths were notorious in Canada between 1870 and 1873, and there was a particular uproar when, in 1873, Campbell failed to become the president of the Council as was customary after having served as the vice-president.
In 1873, Campbell and other homeopaths attempted to create their own Homeopathic Council and College (similar to the one in Montreal), with the aim of reenacting the Homeopathic Act of 1859. Confrontations diminished with the amendments to the Ontario Medical Act in 1874 which permitted homeopathic students to enroll in full-time studies at colleges outside of the Dominion. since there was no homeopathic school in existence here at the time. Upon their consent, this act merged the eclectics with the allopaths. This Act was approved at the 1874 meeting of the Canadian Institute of Homeopathy.
Homeopaths were always represented in the Council of the CPSO by five homeopathic physicians until 1934 when there was a re-organization of Council, against the will of the homeopathic members of the Council. The homeopathic representation was reduced from five to one. Dr. R. W. Schnarr, a homeopathic physician, who served on the Council from June 25, 1925 to 1956, was elected its president for the 1935-36 term. The following is part of his presidential address:

“The election of a Homeopath, a representative of a small group of Physicians, as President of the Council is an indication that the principle of freedom in thought, speech and act is still respected to a remarkable degree by this body. Evidence of this attitude is particularly gratifying at this time, when the tendency to dogmatize and act arbitrarily is everywhere the ruling motive. Freedom in matters pertaining to the treatment of sick-ness in human beings is especially necessary, if progress is to be maintained. Medicine is not an exact science and to my mind never will be, as it has to deal with that mysterious force called 'life' activating the material particles of the human frame” (Schnarr, 1937).

The Medical Act (1950) states:

“...There shall continue to be a council of the College, hereinafter called the Council, to be composed as follows: c) One member resident in Ontario to be duly elected by the licensed practitioners in homeopathy."

The last homeopathic representative on the Council of the College was Dr. Charles Ernest Bond, who served from 1956 until his death on April 1, 1960 (CPSO). After his death, the Medical Act was amended and the Council discontinued homeopathic representation "... in keeping with the changed population patterns of today and other factors" ( Day, 1960). The Medical Act (1970) states:

"...Until a homeopathic medical college for teaching purposes is established in Ontario, candidates wishing to be registered as homeopathists shall possess the supervision of a duly registered homeopathic practitioner."

The Medical Act was replaced by the Health Disciplines Act, 1974, which was superseded by the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RRPA). Presently there are twenty-three self-regulating health professions in the province of Ontario. The Homeopathic Medical Council of Canada is active in promoting homeopathy and continuing efforts for the regulation of homeopathy in Canada.

Another eminent homeopathic physician was Canada's first female doctor, Emily Stowe (1831-1903), a committed advocate of women's rights. Unsuccessful at gaining admission to medical school in Canada, Stowe consequently applied, and was accepted, to the New York Medical College for Women, Homeopathic, from which she graduated in 1867. Dr. Stowe was the founder of Women's College Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.
Few homeopathic hospitals opened in Canada. Plans for the first homeopathic hospital in Ontario began in 1886 and it subsequently opened as the Toronto Homeopathic Free Dispensary in 1888, at Richmond and Victoria Streets. On January 17, 1890, The Toronto Homeopathic Hospital opened with 11 beds at the corner of Richmond and Duncan streets. (Robb). Due to its rapid growth and the tremendous demand for practitioners, in May of the same year, it relocated to Jarvis and Shuter streets and expanded to accommodate 32 beds.

By August, the average number of daily patients was 17 and there were approximately 100 calls upon the dispensary each week. In 1893, under the name of Grace Hospital (Homeopathic). (unrelated to Grace Hospital in Scarborough, Ontario today), the Toronto Homeopathic Hospital moved to better facilities at the corner of College and Huron streets, where there had been a Nursing Training School since 1890. In 1902, the entire hospital changed its name to Grace Hospital. On March 25th, 1926 it merged with Toronto Western Hospital and lost its homeopathic status.
Grace Hospital (Homeopathic) published a monthly newsletter called Homeopathic Messenger for the laity from January 1894 to July 1897 (Archives). Another homeopathic hospital is recorded to have been in London, Ontario in the last century, although it seems that it only existed for a short period of time The Canadian Institute of Homeopathy was established in 1865 in London, Ontario with the following members: Dr. G. Field, Woodstock, President, J. Lancaster, London, Vice-President, H. Allen, Brantford, Secretary-Treasurer, W. Springer, Ingersoll, F. Vernon, Hamilton, F. Caulton, Guelph, Cl. Campbell, London, L. Crawford, Hamilton, R. Morden, London, and A. Thompson, St. Thomas. Also present were: Dr. A. Bull, Buffalo, T. Wilson, Cleveland, and F. Lodge, Detroit. It intended to meet annually, but did not always do so and from 1875 - 1880, no meetings were held. In 1881, it was reorganized in Hamilton and met annually for several years.

One of the longest existing homeopathic hospitals was in Montreal. Plans for this hospital were discussed in a meeting on June 28,1863 and soon a dispensary was opened, although it closed after two years. On March 15, 1865, "An Act to incorporate the Montreal Homeopathic Hospital" established the Montreal Homeopathic Association (CSIJC. 1865). The amendments of September 14, 1865 and March 30, 1883, granted full powers to the association to establish a Dispensary, College, and Hospital and to examine and license homeopathic practitioners. In that same year of 1865, The Montreal College of Homeopathic Physicians and Surgeons was established.

Finally the hospital was incorporated on October 2nd, 1894. with the name of Homeopathic Hospital, and the Ladies' Auxiliary, Montreal Homeopathic Hospital was instituted to train nurses. On June 13, 1904, the name was changed to The Homeopathic Hospital of Montreal, and it was not until 1951. that its name was changed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Griffith, 1969). Today, a plaque on the building commemorates the fact that it was a homeopathic hospital. The Homeopathic Hospital in Montreal, in its first year of existence, surpassed all the records in the Dominion with a death rate of only 3/4 of a percent. Many prominent homeopathic physicians were responsible for the success of the hospital throughout its history, among others, A. Griffith, J. Wanless, W. G. Nichol, T. S. Nichol, M. Morgan, H. M. Patton, A. D. Patton. and A. Fisher.

In addition to having the first homeopathic doctor in Canada, Montreal had the longest running Canadian journal. Montreal Homeopathic Record. Later, it was renamed Homeopathic Record and was published from January 1897 to December 1904 (NLM). The Canadian Journal of Homeopathy, published in St. Catharines, was in existence for a much shorter duration, from its publication in January 1856 until March 1857. Another prominent Quebecois homeopathic doctor, practicing in Quebec was Pierre-Martial Bardy (1797-1869), who became an M.D. in 1829 and a homeopath in 1847, after traveling to New York (LeBlond,1978). Bardy had a thriving practice in Quebec City.

In the west, the British Columbia Homeopathic Act, 1889, permitted homeopathic doctors to register as practitioners in B.C. without being subject to the jurisdiction of the Provincial Medical Council. The homeopath had to pay a ten dollar registration fee and was able to practice (Wade, 1890).
It is known that Dr. John Hall moved to Victoria from Toronto for health reasons. Hall graduated from the Western Homeopathic College of Cleveland, Ohio in 1857. Hall and Campbell were responsible for the opening of the Homeopathic Dispensary and Homeopathic Hospital in Toronto. Hall was president and honorary member of the Hahnemann Club and an honorary member of the Lippe Society of Philadelphia and the International Hahnemann Association. In 1888 Dr. John Hall was succeeded in his practice in Toronto by W. J. Hunter Emory, M.D., M.C.P.S. who studied at Homeopathic Hospital College, Cleveland and Missouri Homeopathic College, St. Louis.
J. B. Hall lived at "Hahnemann Villa" at the comer of Jarvis and Carlton. Emory was an attending physician and surgeon of the Toronto Homeopathic Hospital and member of the International Hahnemann Association. By 1884, an estimated 80 homeopaths were practicing in Canada. It seems, however, that from that point on, homeopathy commenced its decline in Canada. By 1925 only 40 homeopaths were practicing in Canada, 32 in Ontario (Godfrey,1979). One of the reasons for its decline may have been the lack of a well-founded teaching institution, not to mention other factors contributing to homeopathy's decline internationally. After 1960, homeopathy was not represented in the CPSO and it was not until the 1980's that homeopathy returned, strongly supported by the general demand for complementary approaches in health care.

In January 1992, The International Academy of Homeopathy (IAH) and the Toronto Homeopathic Clinic introduced the first Homeopathic Practitioner programme in Canada. The programme was established in order to meet the growing need for qualified practitioners taught according to the principles of classical homeopathy. Since its inception, the IAH has trained doctors, varied health care practitioners and others in the theory and practice of classical homeopathy.
In 1995 the Homeopathic College of Canada (HCC) was founded as a non-profit educational institution. The college’s objectives are to establish the homeopathic profession in Canada and to foster continuing education and research in the field of homeopathic medicine. The IAH continues to promote education and research in homeopathy throughout the world. HCC has grown dramatically over the last few years. The curriculum and faculty continue to expand.

Increased public awareness for accessible and effective health care have meant that the demand for the alternative health care has increased dramatically. However care should be noted about different homeopathic training businesses that may not meet the standards that existed in Ontario when homeopathy was regulated.
Students in the Homeopathic Medicine programme receive a solid foundation in anatomy, physiology, pathology and related sciences. They are taught case-oriented, patient-based, complementary medicine, with an extensive clinical externship which provides the practical experience necessary to work in the health care field. At the HCC, students, educators and practitioners work diligently to increase the understanding of preventative and alternative medicines and to intensify the knowledge of human health.
This is an updated paper that was originally presented in 1994 at the 8th International Conference of Traditional Medicine and Folklore at St. John's, NF. The paper was also published in Health and Homeopathy, Fall of 1995.

The Homeopatic Hospital

Emily Stowe
First Canadian
Female Homeopath

Grace Hospital



Contact us     Legal    © 1991 - 2012, Homeopathic College of Canada