Black History Month: Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott

First Canadian-born Black doctor.

Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott was the first Canadian-born Black doctor in the country, earning his medical degree from the Toronto School of Medicine — a school later affiliated with the University of Toronto. Born in Toronto in 1837, Abbott worked with other barrier-breaking figures; he completed a placement under U.S.-born Dr. Alexander Augusta, the first Black medical student in Canada West. 

After earning his license to practise medicine in 1861, Abbott went to the U.S. and served in the Civil War and was recognized for his duty as one of eight Black surgeons in the army. Abbott moved back to Canada and settled in Chatham, Ont., becoming a coroner for Kent County, before moving around Southern Ontario as a physician. He later returned to the U.S., this time to take a job as the medical superintendent of Provident Hospital — the first Black hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Abbott came back to Toronto in the late 1890s where he continued to work and write for various publications about topics including Black history and medicine. He died in Toronto in 1913.

Shaelyn Ryan <br>(Collections Technician/Assistant 2022)
Shaelyn Ryan
(Collections Technician/Assistant 2022)

Shaelyn Ryan is a recent graduate of Queen’s University, having completed her Bachelor’s degree in History in 2021, and is returning to Queen’s in the fall to pursue a Master’s degree in History. Either as a Summer Student or Work-Study Student through Queen’s University, Shaelyn has helped catalogue and research many of the museum’s collection of artefacts as a Collections Technician (since 2018). 

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