The Story of Dr. C. H. Bird and Dr. H. G. Bird and their family practice

Meet father-son medical team Dr. Charles H. Bird and his son Dr. H. Godfrey Bird! Collectively, this pair of general practitioners practised in the Town of Gananoque for over eighty years, during which time they amassed myriad medical items– 545 of which are now a part of the Museum of Health Care’s Collections!

Charles H. Bird was born in 1872 to English architect father Shearman Godfrey Bird and Chinese mother Amy Laura Amoi. He was very proud of his Chinese heritage and was a master of diagnosis, though he had lost one eye to an infection. A devout Anglican and leader in many community initiatives, he advocated for the pasteurization of milk, leading Gananoque to become one of the first towns in Ontario to have “safe milk.” He also had one of the first motor cars and first x-ray machines in the area!

Hollow cylindrical jar with glass sides and a metal base; bottom is closed, concave with metal leaf on bottom; 5.2-cm band of metal up cylinder sides; top of cylinder tapers convexly to broad, open top; solid wooden lid, gentle convex curve to top, with ball handle; lid steps down at 90° angle to a narrower cylinder; three cork pads, 120 degrees apart, are attached to the cylinder; metal chain attached to closed bottom of lid via a bolt assembly
Leyden Jar–Museum of Health Care 997037537
Dr. Godfrey Bird prescription product labels– Museum of Health Care 997037559

Dr. C. H. Bird’s son, Dr. H. Godfrey Bird, had a learning disability which made him a slow reader, so he never opened a textbook when he went to medical school in 1917, relying instead on lectures and labs. Some time after graduating and travelling Europe, he returned to Gananoque to work with his father and teach Physical Diagnosis at Queen’s University. He and his father did everything but major surgery, working together until Dr. C. H. Bird’s death in 1944. Dr. H. G. Bird retired in 1979 and passed away in 1991.

Residence and Office of Drs. Bird. Photo Source: Doug Bickerton
Dr. Godfrey Bird business sign–Museum of Health Care 997037575

Today, the Bird practice is commemorated at the Museum in our “Electricity and the Invisible Ray” exhibit, which is modelled after the Birds’ office! Learn more here:

To see more of the extensive Bird collection, visit our online collections catalogue by clicking the button below.

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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