Homeopathy in Canada: A Synopsis
by Fernando Ania, N.D., H.D.
In 1996 we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of
homeopathy. In 1796 after six years of experimentation, Samuel
Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, published his findings in a
German medical journal. Since then, homeopathy has expanded
throughout the entire world, having had its splendor at the
beginning of the 20th century in Philadelphia and the East coast of
the United States.
By 1892, the USA had over four hundred state and county associations
(Bradford, 1892), and by 1912, there were one hundred and
ninety-five homeopathic hospitals, nine of which had over one
thousand beds (Cleave, 1912). With immigrants coming into Canada and
Canadians traveling to the USA, the enormous homeopathic influence
in the USA soon reached Canada. An immigrant most likely from the
Netherlands, Dr. J. 0. Rosenstein, is recorded as practicing
homeopathy in 1845, in Montreal, Quebec (Epps,1845).
In 1846, Rosenstein published what may be the first Canadian book on
homeopathy (Rosenstein, 1846). Before Rosenstein, Arthur Fisher,
M.D. was practicing homeopathy in Montreal. Dr. Fisher and Dr.
Rosenstein may have been the first homeopathic doctors practicing in
Canada. Joseph J. Lancaster (1813-1884) was practicing homeopathy in
Norwich, Ontario in 1846 (Campbell, 1892), and then in London,
Ontario in 1848. He went to the U.S.A. to further his studies in
homeopathy and graduated from the Philadelphia Homeopathic College
in 1857 (Cleave, 1873). Dr. Lancaster was one of the first doctors
to use disinfectants and when the cholera epidemic reached London,
Ontario, he suggested using disinfectants to control it. Despite the
opposition of orthodox physicians, the Board of Health acted on his
advice and the epidemic was contained.
Dr. Lancaster was the first practicing homeopath in Ontario and in
1850, he committed himself to having Homeopathy regulated. In 1859,
supported by 1,812 signatures, Mr. Asa Howard petitioned the
legislative Assembly of Upper Canada to recognize Homeopathy (SUC,
1859). On May 4, 1859, the bill known as "An Act Respecting
Homeopathy" was enacted and the Homeopathic Medical Board of Upper
Canada was established (CSUC, 1859). A three year full time
programme was required to practice as a homeopathic doctor. Dr.
Lancaster served as secretary-treasurer of the Homeopathic Board
from 1859 to 1868. The position was shared with J. Adams of Toronto
who served on the Board from 1859 to 1869. Its president was Dr. D.
Campbell (1859-69). Other members were: A.T. Bull, London (1859-65),
A. Greenleat Hamilton (1859-61), J. Hall, Toronto (1859-63), Thos.
Nichol, Belleville (1861-65), 0. C. Field, Woodstock (1863-69), W.
Springer, Ingersoll (1865-69), and J. W. Fergusson, Hamilton
Prior to "An Act Respecting Homeopathy", the Homeopathic Medical
Society of Canada was formed on February 6, 1854 in Hamilton and the
following executives were elected (Lillie,1855): A. Fisher, M.D.,
Montreal, C. E., President; A. Wolverton, M.D., Hamilton, C.W., 1st
Vice-President; J. Lancaster, Eden Vale, 2nd Vice-President; W.
Greenleat, M.D., St. Catharines, Secretary and Treasurer; A.T. Bull,
M.D., London, J. C. Peterson, M.D., Hamilton, and G.W. Campbell,
M.D., Siddlesville, (Censors); Wm. Springer, M.D., Hamilton,
In 1865, "An Act to Regulate the Qualifications of Practitioners in
Medicine and Surgery in Upper Canada" was proclaimed (CSUC,1865). A
clause in this act prohibited any repeal or action that would in
anyway affect the Homeopathic Act of 1859 and the Eclectic Act of
1861. In 1866, "An Act Respecting The Medical Board and Medical
Practitioners" authorized the formation of a licensing Board for
conventional doctors, exempting homeopaths and midwives. As a
consequence of these two acts, the Council of Education and
Registration of Upper Canada was established in 1866, with the
authority to grant licenses to practice medicine in Upper Canada.
Dr. Campbell appeared at the first meeting of the Council, as the
representative of the Homeopathic Board, but was not received.
Confrontations between conventional and homeopathic schools of
thought had always existed and so it took three years of
consultations among the interested groups to reach an agreement.
Finally, in 1869, the Ontario Medical Act was passed (SUP 1869),
which integrated allopaths, homeopaths and eclectics in a provincial
body, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). The
integration of three different systems of medicine within the same
regulatory body was quite unique, unlike the situations in other
countries, such as the United States and England, where
confrontations were routine. In the States, an allopathic doctor
could lose his or her license just by consulting with a homeopath
regarding a patient (Coulter, 1982).
When the Queen of England requested that one of the court physicians
attend Sir William Jenner, the physician alleged that it was
unethical for him to treat a patient who was under the care of a
homeopath and the Queen was denied her request.
In the first election of the CPSO in June 1869, its governing body,
the Medical Council, was formed. One physician was elected from each
of the twelve territorial divisions of the province: one physician
represented each of the five universities and medical schools, five
were chosen from the eclectics and five from the homeopaths. In
1869, the elected homeopaths for the Council were: D. Campbell, G.
C. Field, H. C. Allen, J. Adams, and Wm. Springer. Other homeopathic
doctors elected president of the council in the last century were:
O. Logan (1883-84) and C. Henderson (1887).
The eminent Dr. Duncan Campbell served the Council from its
inception in 1869 to 1878. He was born in Argyllshire, Scotland in
1811, studied in Caan, France and later at the University of
Edinburgh, from which he graduated in 1833. He immigrated to Canada
in 1834 and served as surgeon in one of the battalions in 1837. At
the close of the rebellions, he settled in Hamilton, then moved to
Niagara and in 1858, settled in Toronto. Dr. Campbell is recorded as
the first doctor using anesthesia in Upper Canada (Ontario today) on
May 31, 1848 (Colbeck).
Dr. Duncan Campbell was elected vice-president of the Council in
1872 and again in 1877; however, it was not until 1878, that
Campbell was elected president of the CPSO Council. Grievances
between allopaths and homeopaths were notorious in Canada between
1870 and 1873, and there was a particular uproar when, in 1873,
Campbell failed to become the president of the Council as was
customary after having served as the vice-president.
In 1873, Campbell and other homeopaths attempted to create their own
Homeopathic Council and College (similar to the one in Montreal),
with the aim of reenacting the Homeopathic Act of 1859.
Confrontations diminished with the amendments to the Ontario Medical
Act in 1874 which permitted homeopathic students to enroll in
full-time studies at colleges outside of the Dominion. since there
was no homeopathic school in existence here at the time. Upon their
consent, this act merged the eclectics with the allopaths. This Act
was approved at the 1874 meeting of the Canadian Institute of
Homeopaths were always represented in the Council of the CPSO by
five homeopathic physicians until 1934 when there was a
re-organization of Council, against the will of the homeopathic
members of the Council. The homeopathic representation was reduced
from five to one. Dr. R. W. Schnarr, a homeopathic physician, who
served on the Council from June 25, 1925 to 1956, was elected its
president for the 1935-36 term. The following is part of his
“The election of a Homeopath, a representative of a small group
of Physicians, as President of the Council is an indication that the
principle of freedom in thought, speech and act is still respected
to a remarkable degree by this body. Evidence of this attitude is
particularly gratifying at this time, when the tendency to dogmatize
and act arbitrarily is everywhere the ruling motive. Freedom in
matters pertaining to the treatment of sick-ness in human beings is
especially necessary, if progress is to be maintained. Medicine is
not an exact science and to my mind never will be, as it has to deal
with that mysterious force called 'life' activating the material
particles of the human frame” (Schnarr, 1937).
The Medical Act (1950) states:
“...There shall continue to be a council of the College, hereinafter
called the Council, to be composed as follows: c) One member
resident in Ontario to be duly elected by the licensed practitioners
The last homeopathic representative on the Council of the College
was Dr. Charles Ernest Bond, who served from 1956 until his death on
April 1, 1960 (CPSO). After his death, the Medical Act was amended
and the Council discontinued homeopathic representation "... in
keeping with the changed population patterns of today and other
factors" ( Day, 1960). The Medical Act (1970) states:
"...Until a homeopathic medical college for teaching purposes is
established in Ontario, candidates wishing to be registered as
homeopathists shall possess the supervision of a duly registered
The Medical Act was replaced by the Health Disciplines Act, 1974,
which was superseded by the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RRPA).
Presently there are twenty-three self-regulating health professions
in the province of Ontario. The Homeopathic Medical Council of
Canada is active in promoting homeopathy and continuing efforts for
the regulation of homeopathy in Canada.
Another eminent homeopathic physician was Canada's first female
doctor, Emily Stowe (1831-1903), a committed advocate of women's
rights. Unsuccessful at gaining admission to medical school in
Canada, Stowe consequently applied, and was accepted, to the New
York Medical College for Women, Homeopathic, from which she
graduated in 1867. Dr. Stowe was the founder of Women's College
Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.
Few homeopathic hospitals opened in Canada. Plans for the first
homeopathic hospital in Ontario began in 1886 and it subsequently
opened as the Toronto Homeopathic Free Dispensary in 1888, at
Richmond and Victoria Streets. On January 17, 1890, The Toronto
Homeopathic Hospital opened with 11 beds at the corner of Richmond
and Duncan streets. (Robb). Due to its rapid growth and the
tremendous demand for practitioners, in May of the same year, it
relocated to Jarvis and Shuter streets and expanded to accommodate
By August, the average number of daily patients was 17 and there
were approximately 100 calls upon the dispensary each week. In 1893,
under the name of Grace Hospital (Homeopathic). (unrelated to Grace
Hospital in Scarborough, Ontario today), the Toronto Homeopathic
Hospital moved to better facilities at the corner of College and
Huron streets, where there had been a Nursing Training School since
1890. In 1902, the entire hospital changed its name to Grace
Hospital. On March 25th, 1926 it merged with Toronto Western
Hospital and lost its homeopathic status.
Grace Hospital (Homeopathic) published a monthly newsletter called
Homeopathic Messenger for the laity from January 1894 to July 1897
(Archives). Another homeopathic hospital is recorded to have been in
London, Ontario in the last century, although it seems that it only
existed for a short period of time The Canadian Institute of
Homeopathy was established in 1865 in London, Ontario with the
following members: Dr. G. Field, Woodstock, President, J. Lancaster,
London, Vice-President, H. Allen, Brantford, Secretary-Treasurer, W.
Springer, Ingersoll, F. Vernon, Hamilton, F. Caulton, Guelph, Cl.
Campbell, London, L. Crawford, Hamilton, R. Morden, London, and A.
Thompson, St. Thomas. Also present were: Dr. A. Bull, Buffalo, T.
Wilson, Cleveland, and F. Lodge, Detroit. It intended to meet
annually, but did not always do so and from 1875 - 1880, no meetings
were held. In 1881, it was reorganized in Hamilton and met annually
for several years.
One of the longest existing homeopathic hospitals was in Montreal.
Plans for this hospital were discussed in a meeting on June 28,1863
and soon a dispensary was opened, although it closed after two
years. On March 15, 1865, "An Act to incorporate the Montreal
Homeopathic Hospital" established the Montreal Homeopathic
Association (CSIJC. 1865). The amendments of September 14, 1865 and
March 30, 1883, granted full powers to the association to establish
a Dispensary, College, and Hospital and to examine and license
homeopathic practitioners. In that same year of 1865, The Montreal
College of Homeopathic Physicians and Surgeons was established.
Finally the hospital was incorporated on October 2nd, 1894. with the
name of Homeopathic Hospital, and the Ladies' Auxiliary, Montreal
Homeopathic Hospital was instituted to train nurses. On June 13,
1904, the name was changed to The Homeopathic Hospital of Montreal,
and it was not until 1951. that its name was changed to Queen
Elizabeth Hospital (Griffith, 1969). Today, a plaque on the building
commemorates the fact that it was a homeopathic hospital. The
Homeopathic Hospital in Montreal, in its first year of existence,
surpassed all the records in the Dominion with a death rate of only
3/4 of a percent. Many prominent homeopathic physicians were
responsible for the success of the hospital throughout its history,
among others, A. Griffith, J. Wanless, W. G. Nichol, T. S. Nichol,
M. Morgan, H. M. Patton, A. D. Patton. and A. Fisher.
In addition to having the first homeopathic doctor in Canada,
Montreal had the longest running Canadian journal. Montreal
Homeopathic Record. Later, it was renamed Homeopathic Record and was
published from January 1897 to December 1904 (NLM). The Canadian
Journal of Homeopathy, published in St. Catharines, was in existence
for a much shorter duration, from its publication in January 1856
until March 1857. Another prominent Quebecois homeopathic doctor,
practicing in Quebec was Pierre-Martial Bardy (1797-1869), who
became an M.D. in 1829 and a homeopath in 1847, after traveling to
New York (LeBlond,1978). Bardy had a thriving practice in Quebec
In the west, the British Columbia Homeopathic Act, 1889, permitted
homeopathic doctors to register as practitioners in B.C. without
being subject to the jurisdiction of the Provincial Medical Council.
The homeopath had to pay a ten dollar registration fee and was able
to practice (Wade, 1890).
It is known that Dr. John Hall moved to Victoria from Toronto for
health reasons. Hall graduated from the Western Homeopathic College
of Cleveland, Ohio in 1857. Hall and Campbell were responsible for
the opening of the Homeopathic Dispensary and Homeopathic Hospital
in Toronto. Hall was president and honorary member of the Hahnemann
Club and an honorary member of the Lippe Society of Philadelphia and
the International Hahnemann Association. In 1888 Dr. John Hall was
succeeded in his practice in Toronto by W. J. Hunter Emory, M.D.,
M.C.P.S. who studied at Homeopathic Hospital College, Cleveland and
Missouri Homeopathic College, St. Louis.
J. B. Hall lived at "Hahnemann Villa" at the comer of Jarvis and
Carlton. Emory was an attending physician and surgeon of the Toronto
Homeopathic Hospital and member of the International Hahnemann
Association. By 1884, an estimated 80 homeopaths were practicing in
Canada. It seems, however, that from that point on, homeopathy
commenced its decline in Canada. By 1925 only 40 homeopaths were
practicing in Canada, 32 in Ontario (Godfrey,1979). One of the
reasons for its decline may have been the lack of a well-founded
teaching institution, not to mention other factors contributing to
homeopathy's decline internationally. After 1960, homeopathy was not
represented in the CPSO and it was not until the 1980's that
homeopathy returned, strongly supported by the general demand for
complementary approaches in health care.
In January 1992, The International Academy of Homeopathy (IAH) and
the Toronto Homeopathic Clinic introduced the first Homeopathic
Practitioner programme in Canada. The programme was established in
order to meet the growing need for qualified practitioners taught
according to the principles of classical homeopathy. Since its
inception, the IAH has trained doctors, varied health care
practitioners and others in the theory and practice of classical
In 1995 the Homeopathic College of Canada (HCC) was founded as a
non-profit educational institution. The college’s objectives are to
establish the homeopathic profession in Canada and to foster
continuing education and research in the field of homeopathic
medicine. The IAH continues to promote education and research in
homeopathy throughout the world. HCC has grown dramatically over the
last few years. The curriculum and faculty continue to expand.
Increased public awareness for accessible and effective health care
have meant that the demand for the alternative health care has
increased dramatically. However care should be noted about different
homeopathic training businesses that may not meet the standards that
existed in Ontario when homeopathy was regulated.
Students in the Homeopathic Medicine programme receive a solid
foundation in anatomy, physiology, pathology and related sciences.
They are taught case-oriented, patient-based, complementary
medicine, with an extensive clinical externship which provides the
practical experience necessary to work in the health care field. At
the HCC, students, educators and practitioners work diligently to
increase the understanding of preventative and alternative medicines
and to intensify the knowledge of human health.
This is an updated paper that was originally presented in 1994 at
the 8th International Conference of Traditional Medicine and
Folklore at St. John's, NF. The paper was also published in Health
and Homeopathy, Fall of 1995.
The Homeopatic Hospital