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Notes for Jonathan Campbell Meakins

1882 Jonathan Campbell Meakins, son of Charles William Meakins and Elizabeth Campbell, was born on May 16 in Hamilton, Ontario. The Hamilton Spectator reported on May 18, [1]

On the 16th instant, at 170 Main street east, the wife of C. W. Meakins, of a son.

1911 Jonathan Campbell Meakins and Dorothy Brown, daughter of Fayette Brown, were married on June 9 at St Paul's Presbyterian Church in Montreal, Quebec.

1924 "Dr. Jonathan Meakins arrived from the University of Edinburgh to take up his appointment as physician-in-chief of the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) and the first full-time chairman of medicine in Canada. Dr. Meakins more than fulfilled his mandate to establish clinical research at the RVH." [2]

1926 Dorothy (Brown) Meakins died on October 12 in Montreal.

1928 Jonathan Campbell Meakins and Sarah Caldwell Young were married on June 28. [3]

Meakins-Young. In the First Presbyterian Church, Fifth Avenue and Eleventh Street, yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Sarah Caldwell Young, widow of Lawrence A. Young of Chicago, was married to Dr. Jonathan Campbell Meakins of Montreal. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Dr. George Alexander, pastor of the church, in the presence of a few immediate relatives. The bride was escorted by her brother, Frederick G. Caldwell. Her only attendants were Mrs. Henry Young of Detroit and Mrs. William P. Killingsworth of Wichita Falls, Texas. Henry Young was best man for Dr. Meakins. The ceremony was followed by a small reception at the Plaza. Dr. Meakins and his bride have gone to Montreal, whence they will leave shortly for a wedding trip to the Pacific Coast. This is Dr. Meakin's second marriage. His first wife, Mrs. Dorothy Brown Meakins, died about two years ago.

1959 Jonathan C. Meakins died on October 12 and was buried at the Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. [4] The memorial inscriptions names him as J. C. Meakins and includes the initials of his many degrees, memberships, and honorary memberships. It also states that he was Emeritus Professor of Medicine, McGill University, born May 16, 1882, and died Oct. 12, 1959.

Research Notes:

Jonathan Campbell Meakins M.D., was director of the Medical School at McGill. [5]

A biography states, [6]

Jonathan Campbell Meakins
b.18 May 1882 d.12 October 1959
CBE(1945) MD CM McGill(1904) Hon LLD Edin(1927) Hon LLD McGill(1947) Hon MD Sydney(1937) FRCPE(1919) FACP(1928) FRCP(C)(1931) *FRCP(1935) FRSC(1926) Hon FRCSE(1930)

Jonathan Meakins fully deserved all the academic honours granted him during his long and distinguished service to medicine, for he was one of the first leaders to demand a break with its orthodox outlook at the beginning of the twentieth century, and to teach the importance of the physiological approach to its problems. He was born in Hamilton, Ontario, the son of Charles William Meakins and Elizabeth, née Campbell. He graduated from McGill University in 1904.

He spent two years as a resident at the Royal Victoria Hospital, one in the department of bacteriology at Johns Hopkins, and two with Eugene Opie in the department of pathology at the Presbyterian Hospital, New York. In 1912 he resigned his recent appointment as director of the department of experimental medicine in his own University for further post-graduate work with Sir Thomas Lewis and Sir James MacKenzie, returning to Montreal just before the outbreak of war in 1914.

He came back to England with No. 3 Canadian General Hospital in May 1915, but soon rejoined Sir Thomas Lewis, who had begun work with Dale, Haldane, Barcroft and Cushny on the study of the physiological problems arising from gas and other hazards of war. By the end of the war he was recognised as a brilliant investigator, well worthy of his appointment to the Christison chair of therapeutics and clinical medicine at Edinburgh in 1919. There, with characteristic energy and foresight, he set up laboratories and introduced scientific research at the Royal Infirmary.

His debonair manner made him a great favourite with students. He could enjoy life to the full, and yet find time to write his book, Respiratory function in disease (1925), the first to be written on that subject, and be a member of Barcroft’s expedition to the Andes, which made a comprehensive study of the effects of high altitude.

On his return to Montreal in 1924 as professor of medicine at McGill and physician-in-chief to the Royal Victoria Hospital, he worked for many changes in the old order and saw them accomplished in spite of opposition from orthodox colleagues. His leadership was quickly recognised throughout the North American continent. In 1929 he was elected first president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, in 1934 president of the American College of Physicians, and in 1935 president of the Canadian Medical Association.

He was editor of the American Heart Journal from 1950 to 1958, and his The Practice of medicine quickly went through six editions (1936-56). In 1939 he was appointed deputy director of medical services in the Canadian Army with the rank of brigadier, and was still able to take over the duties of dean of the faculty at his University School of Medicine in 1942. Meakins was indeed a great man.

In 1911 he married Dorothy, daughter of Fayette Brown, of Montreal. She died in 1926. His second marriage, to Sara Caldwell Young, took place in 1928. There were two children of the first marriage, a daughter and a son, who became a doctor.

* He was elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature …"

[Amer. Heart J., 1960, 59, 1-2; Brit.med.J., 1959, 2, 959-60, 1027-8; Canad. med. Ass. J., 1957, 77, 58 (p); 1959, 81, 955-6; Lancet, 1959, 2, 796-7; Med. Serv. J. Can., 1959, 15, 589-90; Montreal Star, 13 (p), 14 Oct. 1959; Proc. roy. Soc. Can., 1960, 54, 141-2; Scotsman, 22 Oct. 1959.]

A biography states, [7]

Jonathan Campbell Meakins (1882-1959). At today's MUHC, major medical discoveries almost always emerge from close collaborations between laboratory scientists and clinical practitioners. This integration of scientific inquiry into the practice of medicine was the passion and major achievement of Jonathan Campbell Meakins, Physician-in-Chief at the Royal Victoria Hospital and Director of its University Medical Clinic. Meakins was born in Hamilton, Ontario, and received his medical degree from McGill University in 1904. After graduation he was employed as a resident physician at the Royal Victoria Hospital for two years before moving briefly to the United States. In 1910, he returned to Montreal to join the staff of the Royal Victoria Hospital and to become a Lecturer in Clinical Medicine at McGill. Meakins's career in Montreal was interrupted in 1914 when he enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps following the outbreak of World War I. After the war Meakins remained overseas, accepting an appointment in Scotland as Professor of Therapeutics and Clinical Medicine at Edinburgh University and Physician to the Royal Infirmary. In 1924, Meakins was persuaded to return to the Royal Vic to set up the University Medical Clinic. There, for the first time at a McGill hospital, basic medical scientists worked alongside clinicians, inaugurating a formula that has since become a hallmark of the institution. At the same time Meakins became Professor of Medicine at McGill, embarking on an academic career that would eventually see him serve as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1941 to 1948. In addition to his services at McGill and the Royal Victoria Hospital, Meakins played an important role in the formation of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and was elected its first President. Perhaps most remarkably, Meakins's son Jonathan Fayette and grandson Jonathan Larmonth both had distinguished careers at McGill, creating an extraordinary medical dynasty spanning almost a century.

A biography states, [8]

J.C. Meakins joined the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University in 1909 as demonstrator in clinical medicine. He subsequently held a number of positions in pathology and experimental medicine before becoming Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, 1941-1948. As well, he was director of the Department of Experimental Medicine, 1918-1919, 1924-1948, and Director of the University Medical Clinic, 1927-1948. He held the first full-time position in Medicine at McGill. Dr. Meakins served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps from 1914 to 1919. He was also in function during World War II with the rank of Brigadier as Deputy Director of Medical Services, R.C.A.M.C. from 1942 to 1945, and was awarded the C.B.E. for his services. Prolific writer, his best known work "The Practice of Medicine" reached its 6th edition in 1956.

A biography states, [9]

Meakins, Jonathan Campbell. 16/05/1882-12/10/1959. Ref: 2660. Male.
Titles and British Honours: CBE(1945).
Place of Birth: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Place of Death: Montreal, Canada.
Profession: Physician.
Appointments Held: Professor 1919-24, Therapeutics, Edinburgh University; Professor 1924-47, Medicine, McGill
University, Canada.
Postgraduate Studies: MD(Sydney), LL.D (Edinburgh).
Marital Status: Married 1st Dorothy Brown d.1926, 2nd (1928) Sara Caldwell Young.
Mother: Elizabeth Campbell.
Father: Charles William Meakins.
War Service: 1939-45. Brigadier, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.
References: RSE Year Book 1959, 91-2; Who Was Who 5.
Memberships: FRCPE, FRCP, FRCPCanada, Fellow of the American College of Physicians, FRCSE.
Date of Election: 06/03/1922.
Proposers: James Lorrain Smith, Henry Briggs, Sir James Walker, James Hartley Ashworth (Candidates List 1922).
Fellow Type: OF (Ordinary Fellow).


[1] Gordon H. Allison, Hamilton Spectator, Deaths, Marriages, and Births January to June 1882 (Manuscript, Hamilton, Ontario, Archives, 1995), 6.

[2] History of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories, http://meakins.mcgill.ca/about/history_mcl_macklem.pdf, no longer available online.

[3] Newspaper, New York Times, 29 June 1928, p. 29, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) with Index (1851-1993).

[4] Find A Grave Memorial 104799144, [FindAGrave].

[5] Family Document, Evelyn Miles Krase Notes.

[6] Richard R. Trail, "Jonathan Campbell Meakins," Lives of the Fellows, Vol. V, 1926-1965 (The Royal College of Physicians of London), 278, [URL].

[7] MUHC Health Perspectives (July/August 2004), 8, http://www.muhcfoundation.com/files/pdf/HP_Issue_09.pdf#page=8, no longer available online.

[8] Biographical Sketch, Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University, [URL].

[9] C. D. Waterston and A. Macmillan Shearer, Former Fellows of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1783 - 2002, Biographical Index, Part 2 (Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2006), 636 (Part 2, pdf page=148), [URL].