Anderson Ruffin Abbott 1837 - 1913
First Canadian Black Doctor
Abbott was Canada’s first black doctor graduating from the University of Toronto in 1861 at age 23.
Although born in Toronto into a wealthy family, he travelled to the United States to work as one of only eight black surgeons in the Union Army during the Civil War. Because of segregation he was only allowed to look after black troops.
Through his work he became a close friend of President Abraham Lincoln. He advocated for black rights, bought slaves in order to free them and protested against travelling minstrel shows. When the war ended he returned to Canada and practiced surgery at the Toronto General Hospital, which, at the time, was in Cabbagetown (on Gerrard Street between Sumach and Sackville).
Following his marriage in 1871, he moved to Chatham and then to Dundas, Ontario and later became the first black coroner in Canada. In 1894 he moved to Chicago to become the medical superintendent of the segregated Provident Hospital where, among many accomplishments, he set up the first nursing programme for black women.
Upon his retirement Dr. Abbott returned to Canada where he died in 1913.