Jennie Kidd Trout was Canada’s first female physician licensed to practice and an incredibly respected and impactful activist. Born in Kelso, Scotland, in 1841, Jennie and her family immigrated to Canada when she was only six years old, settling in Ellice Township, Ontario. Soon after marrying her husband, Edward Trout, Jennie was struck with severe neurological illness that left her housebound and miserable. Eventually, her struggle ceased when she was treated using the breakthrough technology of electrotherapy. Her symptoms improved and she found relief. Her recovery is what inspired her to become a physician.
With the support of her husband, Trout moved in to a house on Church Street in Toronto. Along with her housemate, Emily Stowe, she attended qualifying medical courses at the Toronto School of Medicine, which they both completed in 1872. At the time, no Canadian medical school were yet accepting women. Trout was forced to attend medical school in the United States at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, where she received her diploma in 1875. Returning to Canada, she passed the exams required by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario, and therefore became the first licensed female doctor in Canadian history.
She lead a very successful medical practice specializing in electrotherapeutics staffed entirely by women which allowed her to open more clinics in Hamilton and Brantford. Following her successful but taxing medical career, Trout retired at 41 and focused on supporting education for women. She donated $10,000 to fund the Women’s Medical College at Queen’s University, which three years later combined with the Toronto School of Medicine to form the Ontario Medical College for Women in Toronto.
She fell ill while staying at her winter home in Hollywood, California. She died at 80 years old on November 10, 1921. Her hard work paved the way for female physicians in Canada, and her activism and generosity will never be forgotten.
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