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FORBES, George and Isabella Magee Forbes

Dr.George Forbes: " ... who served Beachburg, Ontario and several pioneer communities as physician & friend for more than 50 years."

Dr. George Forbes came to Beachburg in 1855 being practically a pioneer in his profession for a very  large geographic area covering the townships of Westmeath and Ross, plus across the Ottawa and up into the Laurentian hills of Pontiac County Quebec. He settled in Beachburg in 1865. He was later named as the Township’s Medical Officer.  Prior to that a Dr. Purvis had come to the village on certain days.

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In 1865, Dr. Forbes was the first doctor to settle in Beachburg. Previous to that, Dr. Purvis came to the village only on certain days of the week. Dr. Forbes planted many of the trees along the village streets. A few of the trees are still there today.

Dr. Forbes built a brick building beside his home for his son George, a druggist, in 1902. George died in 1904. The building was sold to the Bank of Ottawa in 1906 which later amalgamated with the Bank of Nova Scotia in 1919.

Mr H.D. MacMillan, a son-in-law of Dr Forbes was appointed as the manager and served as such until his death in 1947. Several other managers were here until a new Bank of Nova Scotia was built in 1980. The building was then donated to the Beachburg Public Library. ”   From “Beachburg-A Rich Heritage”

Dr. Forbes Home, next door to the brick pharmacy.

Dr. Forbe’s Home, next door to the brick pharmacy.

After such a sadly shortened time operated as a drug store by George Forbes Jr., that red-brick building is once again a pharmacy in the Village of Beachburg;  dispensing aid to the citizens.

Many of the older set remember Dr. Forbes’s  legacy of the magnificent maples lining the Main Street. In an age before air-conditioning those Forbes trees supplied a canopy that everyone enjoyed in the hot weather.

In 1875 an epidemic of diphtheria swept through the village and six deaths were recorded among the children. Later in 1899 a smallpox epidemic was avoided by an action plan of providing vaccinations to all school children and others in the township, authorized by the township council of the day and implemented by Medical Health Officers Dr. John Graham and Dr. Forbes.

Dr. Forbes , as well as being the village doctor also served as the Township Health Officer and this entry appears in the 1901 Westmeath Township Council minute books:

“Moved by Andrew Poupore, seconded by William Ross, that in view of the fact that smallpox threatens to be epidemic and also on recommendation of the Board of Health and Medical Health Officer that this council adopt a general vaccination of the Township of Westmeath and that Dr. Forbes of Beachburg and Dr. Graham of Westmeath be appointed Medical Practitioners to have the same done at once by a house to house visitation and that they each receive a remuneration for their services the sum of twenty-five cents for each person successfully vaccinated (township to furnish vaccine), and also that the following territory be allotted to each: Dr. Forbes Polling: Stn No 1 and 4, and Dr. Graham: Polling Stn #2 and 3. Carried”

This is well before any  universal health care legislation came into effect. In Victorian Canada, the municipality paid for any medical undertaking such as trying to meet the threat of a smallpox epidemic.

The Forbes family were staunch church-goers and the St. Augustine’s Anglican Church windows commemorate the family. The Forbes Windows.

Window in St. Augustine Anglican Church, Beachburg.

Window in St. Augustine Anglican Church, Beachburg.

1900 Monument to S. African Dead

The Ottawa Journal, 28 March 1900.

They also were staunch participants in the British Empire and those who fought and died in its defense. 50 cents in 1900 had the same buying power as 13.86 current dollars.

Isabella McGee Forbes’s parents died within hours of one another. They were both natives of County Cavan, Ireland.

Pembroke Observer &Upper Ottawa Advertiser, Friday, January 29, 1886

Pembroke Observer &Upper Ottawa Advertiser, Friday, January 29, 1886

Forbes stone

Forbes-McGee stone

Dr. George Forbes (1844 -1919) m. Isabella McGee (1845-1904) and their children were:

1. George Alexander Forbes (1864-1904), druggist, Beachburg, ON.

2. Kathleen “Ethel” McGee Forbes (1868-  ), unmarried. Education: Bishop Strachan School, Toronto. Registered nurse Boston City Hospital, 1898 to 1903. Superintendent Hospital for Women and Children Training School: 1922 (first nurse’s training school in the USA. –  An exceptional accomplishment for a woman in that era. Kathleen in her estate, bequeathed money to St. Augustine Church.

The Ottawa Journal, 14 April, 1898. Ethel Forbes on Boston Nursing Staff.

The Ottawa Journal, 14 April, 1898. Ethel Forbes on Boston Nursing Staff.

Kathleen “Ethel” Forbes was the Assistant Superintendent of Renfrew Victoria Hospital from 1914-1918. She was the Superintendent of Renfrew Victoria Hospital from 1927-1931. In this capacity she was also in charge of the Renfrew Victoria Hospital School of Nursing.  – from Renfrew Victoria Hospital History Book 1897-1997, pg 176 and submitted by Sandra Beach-Buttle .

3. Maude Lucinda Forbes (1873-1940) m. Joseph Thomas McCagherty ( -1947), also from Westmeath Township. 1947 Death McCagherty, JosephThomas.  Dr. Forbes had delivered Joseph at his birth. See MCCAGHERTY entry.

4. Mabel Forbes (1875- ) m. (1) Robert Delaheye (  -1913) in 1906; after his death Mabel m. (2) High Donald MacMillan (  -1947) – no children.