Fonds 1563 - McPhedran / Duncan / Green Family fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1563


McPhedran / Duncan / Green Family fonds


  • 1836-1995 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

3.50 m of textual and graphic records (20 boxes)

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Harris McPhedran was born in 1882 in Lambton County, Ontario, educated locally in Wanstead and Watford, and in 1901 entered the medical program at the University of Toronto where his uncle, Alexander McPhedran, was a professor. He graduated with an MB in 1905 and from 1907 was associated both with the Faculty of Medicine and St. Michael's Hospital. He was renown both as a teacher and a physician, and in 1947 retired from academic work to devote himself to private practice.

One of the original members of the No. 4 Canadian General Hospital, he went overseas in 1915 with the Canadian Army Medical Corps and served at Salonika. Later, after convalescing in Canada from a severe bout of malaria, he served at the CAMC headquarters and with the Ontario Military Hospital at Orpington, Kent. In January, 1918 he was appointed as Officer-in-Charge of Medicine at No. 13 Canadian Military Hospital at Hastings and later at the Canadian General Hospital at Eastbourne. During World War II, he chaired, first, the Military Advisory Committee of the Ontario Medical Association and then the Procurement and Assignment Board.

In 1908 Dr. McPhedran married Florence Davidson, who joined him in England during World War I with their two young daughters, Isobel Catherine (known to all as "Muffie") who was born in 1909, and Elizabeth Alexandra, born in 1911. After the War, the family settled again in Toronto.

Professionally he was an active in and elected president of the Toronto Academy of Medicine (1931), the Ontario Medical Association (1941), and the Canadian Medical Association (1944). Of the last body he served as a member of its executive committee from 1947-1952, as chair of the council, and then as chair of the committee on economics. He was a Canadian representative at the first Commonwealth Medical Conference in Saskatoon in 1949, and at the second in Brisbane, Australia in 1950. In 1951 he visited Britain and reported fully on its national health scheme. In 1947 he was elected to the council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, and in 1953 as its president, chair of the executive committee, and its representative to the Senate of the University of Toronto. In 1956, he resigned to become registrar-general of the College, retiring in 1960 due to ill-health. He then was appointed as consultant to the College until his death on 19 August, 1963.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Florence Davidson married Dr. John Harris McPhedran in 1908. She joined him in England during World War I with their two young daughters, Isobel Catherine (known to all as "Muffie") who was born in 1909, and Elizabeth Alexandra, born in 1911. Florence was determined to be a war correspondent, and even lobbied Prime Minister Borden to ensure that she could go to France. The authorities relented and reports from her trip in December, 1917 were forwarded to the Toronto Star. She seriously impaired her husband's chances for advancement by complaining to authorities about the treatment of troops at the Front.

After the War, the family settled again in Toronto, where Florence was involved in volunteer work. She died of a brain tumour in 1934.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Marie McPhedran was born in Sault Ste. Marie in 1904 and had attended University College for the academic year 1921-1922, before leaving for Normal School to help put her brothers through university. In 1927 she married Gordon George Duncan, captain of the Varsity intercollegiate football champion team in 1921 and a 1923 graduate in mining engineering. In the latter year he was appointed field engineer for the Mining Corporation of Canada in the new mining town of Flin Flon, Manitoba. At the time of his marriage he was in charge of exploration work for the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company. Marie was one of the first women to live there, and it was her experiences during these happy years that she drew on in writing her first book, Golden North. About 1928 Gordon made the first aerial flight into Bathurst Inlet. In 1929 he became director of field operations for the Northern Aerial Mining Exploration Company. He died in April, 1932. Having lost one kidney from a football injury, he succumbed when the other became tubercular. He was survived by his wife and a daughter, Kittie-Marie.

By the time she married Harris McPhedran in 1926, Marie was already writing short stories and had recently had published one about her experiences in the north. Over the next decade she wrote a large number of short stories for children, for which she had difficulty finding publishers. Her breakthrough came with her first novel, Golden North, the runner-up for the 1948 Governor-General's Award for juvenile fiction. Other books followed, including Cargoes on the Great Lakes, for which she won the 1952 Governor-General's Award. Later she began work on a biography of Jeanne Mance, but never completed it. She died on 1 September, 1974.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Records donated by Kittie-Marie Fells, daughter of Marie McPhedran.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Records documenting the lives of John Harris McPhedran, associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine, and members of his family, including his first wife, Florence Davidson, and their children, Isobel and Elizabeth, and his second wife, Marie Green Duncan, author of several books and a Governor-General's Award winner.

Included is correspondence, diaries, and his autobiography which, in addition to personal and family matters, detail his activities during World War I and at the University of Toronto; certificates and diplomas, legal documents, memorabilia, notes, research files, interviews, manuscripts, radio scripts, photographs, glass-plate negatives, and postcards.

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Notes area


Most of the handwritten notes on family members and events and notes of identification on photoprints were made by Kittie-Marie Fells, Marie McPhedran's daughter.

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