Hastings (John E. F.) Family

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Hastings (John E. F.) Family

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The Hastings family has a long and honourable history of medical service in Toronto, beginning with Charles John Oliver Hastings (1858-1931), and his brother, Andrew Orr (1855-1918). Charles attended the Ontario College of Pharmacy and both he and Andrew later studied at the Toronto School of Medicine, receiving their MDs from Victoria University in 1885 and 1886 respectively. For almost twenty years (1910-1929) Charles was Medical Officer of Heath for the City of Toronto, setting a standard of excellence and innovation that brought him and his department international acclaim. In 1923 the University of Toronto recognized his contributions by bestowing on him the degree of LLD. Andrew was also a well-known medical practitioner in Toronto.

Their brother, Rowland Beverley, had three sons and a daughter, two of whom figure in this fonds: Elgin Rowland (1886-1958) and Louise. Elgin, like his uncles, attended Markham Collegiate; he then worked for four years before entering medicine at the University of Toronto. He graduated from the five-year program in 1913 and set up his practice on Queen Street East. Louise, never married but she and her sister-in-law, Bessie Gowan Ferguson, were favourite aunts of his son, John.

On 26 December 1925 Elgin married Helen Mary Ferguson (1893-1973), the daughter of Ogle R. and Mary A. Ferguson and a great-granddaughter of Ogle Robert Gowan, first Canadian grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of British North America. She was born in Cookstown, Ontario on 12 July 1893 and was a public school teacher in Hamilton; just before her marriage she applied for a position in household economics at Central Technical School in Toronto.
Their son, John Elgin Ferguson, was born on 28 June 1928.

John attended the Normal Model School and University of Toronto Schools before following the family tradition by entering the University of Toronto as a pre-medical student in 1945. During these formative years he began developing skills and interests that remained with him for the rest of his life. He was fascinated by politics and, never a bystander, became an active member of the Progressive Conservative Party. His political interests were broad, early on extending to the national and international level, especially to the countries of the emerging Commonwealth. He honed his debating and public speaking skills and indulged in another passion, drama, by writing skits and plays. At UTS he also began developing leadership skills that he was soon to apply, with his strong Christian faith and sense of social justice, at Camp Kagawong, the summer camp for boys that he began attending in the mid-1930s and where he became a counsellor and section leader.

John Hastings received his MD in 1951 and did post-graduate work in public health, receiving his DPH in 1954. For the following two years he was a fellow in preventive medicine in the School of Hygiene, and acquired additional training in international health planning at Johns Hopkins University. At the same time he served as a don of South House in Burwash Hall at Victoria College and made two trips abroad. The first was to India in 1953, as the University of Toronto’s representative to the World University Service International Seminar in Madras. He also attended the first World Conference on Medical Education in London. Two years later, as the faculty’s representative, he attended the WUS International Seminar in Japan and spent a further month studying Japanese medical education and care, sponsored by the World Health Organization.
His report was well received and helped launch his career which would include local, provincial, national and international elements.

Dr. Hastings’ career at the University spanned forty years; at the time of his retirement in 1993 he was Professor of community health and health administration, having held many academic and administrative posts at the University, including (from 1998-1992) associate dean of community health in the Faculty of Medicine. During his long tenure he brought to the University the knowledge gained from his participation in many aspects of community and public health outside the confines of academe.

His expertise was sought constantly by governments and agencies of all stripes. Notable examples within Canada include his study on community health services for the Royal Commission on Health Services (the Hall Commission) (1961-1963); his work (1971-1972) with the Community Health Centre Project, recorded in his “Hastings’ Report”; and his Canadian health administrator study (1978-1981). Internationally, he worked for thirty years as a consultant to and an invited participant in seminars of the World Health Organization, which tried to lure him away to Geneva in the late 1960s. Many of his activities were part of joint WHO/ Pan American Health Organization projects, especially studies of health planning and services in South America and the Caribbean. In the 1980s his work with the WHO was directed largely to helping develop policies in its European offices.

Dr. Hastings was a member of a number of professional associations, mostly relating to public health and including the Canadian Public Health Association; its Ontario, American and Caribbean equivalents, and the Canadian Society for International Health. In 1996-1997 he served as president of the CPHA. He was also made an honorary life member of that body and received its R. D. Defries award for “outstanding contribution to the broad field of public health”, one of several such honours that came his way.

In addition to his professional activities, Dr. Hastings applied his expertise continuously in other areas, especially activities relating to St. Andrew’s United Church in Toronto, the United Church of Canada, and the Canadian Council of Churches’ Vellore/Ludhiana Committee which supported the work of the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India. He also continued his association with Camp Kagawong until shortly before it closed in 1974.


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Hastings, John Elgin Ferguson

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