Lieutenant-Colonel Robert E. Wodehouse – Gateway to Northwestern Ontario History


The “local medical man” in this photo from the Fort William Daily Times Journal (February 10, 1915) is Major Robert Elmer Wodehouse, Fort William’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH). He came to the city from New York in 1909. Before that he was superintendent of an isolation hospital in Toronto. When he arrived in Fort William he entered private practice before replacing Dr. Manion as MOH. In March 1910, Dr. Wodehouse and his Port Arthur counterpart Dr. Laurie were confronted with a smallpox outbreak. They restricted intercity travel, stopped public gatherings, and quarantined the sick.

In 1912 Dr. Wodehouse was appointed District Health Officer, headquartered at the Lakehead. He married Madeline, daughter of Frank H. Keefer K.C.M.P for Port Arthur. Dr. Wodehouse joined the armed forces in 1914 and was in charge of convalescent hospitals in England, including Bearwood, Berkshire, during the war. He attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.  He was awarded an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1919.

He returned to his former position in Fort William in 1919 where he was made President of the Thunder Bay Public Health Association. The following year Dr. Wodehouse was appointed District Health Officer for eastern Ontario, headquartered in Guelph. His successor was Dr. Stark.

The “Mystery Medicine Man” question was generously answered by Mark Chochla and David Ratz.

Read Wodehouse’ attestation papers through Library and Archives Canada.

More about Wodehouse can be read on the Gathering our Heroes website.