Lives of the fellows

Ray Fletcher Farquharson

b.4 August 1897 d.1 June 1965
MBE(1946) MB Toronto(1922) DSc Br Col(1949) LLD Sask(1957) MD Laval(1959) LLD Queen’s(1960) LLD Alberta(1960) BSc Med Montreal(1965) FRCP(C)(1931) FACP(1947) *FRCP(1950) FRCS(1960)

Ray Farquharson came on both sides from Scots families who had emigrated to Canada from Aberdeen. His father was the Rev. William Farquharson, a Presbyterian minister, his mother Annie Macdonald, the daughter of John Coutts, a farmer. He was born at Claude, Ontario, and educated at Durham High School, Harbord Collegiate Institute and the University of Toronto.

After three years’ post-graduate study at the Toronto General Hospital he was appointed a fellow in the University department of medicine, and in 1927 worked under Joseph Aub at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, as Alexander McPhedran research fellow. In 1928 he joined the university staff as a demonstrator and in 1934 became assistant professor in the department of therapeutics.

From 1945 to 1947, after two years as medical consultant to the Royal Canadian Air Force, he was adviser in medicine to the director general of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and director of medicine in its Toronto hospitals. He then held the Sir John and Lady Eaton chair of medicine until 1960, serving also on the Defence Research Board and as vice-president of the National Research Council until 1963, when he was appointed chairman of the newly formed Medical Research Council of Canada.

Such distinguished service was recognised in many honours, among them the presidency of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1945-7, membership of the Board of Governors of York University, the fellowship of the Ontario Medical Association, and the Medal of Honour of the Canadian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association.

Numerous learned societies of Canada and America welcomed him as a member, and his advice was sought by universities and Governments in India, Australia and Russia. A boundless curiosity, extensive reading in medical and general literature and philosophy, and a searching, logical approach that focussed attention on essentials explain his power of direct teaching, while his warm understanding of the psychological factors of illness brought the legendary confidence he inspired in every patient.

In 1931 he married Christina Jane, daughter of John Fraser, a railroad official who had come to Canada from the Hebrides. They had two daughters.

Richard R Trail

* He was elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature..."

[, 1965, 1, 1616 (p); Canad. med. Ass. J., 1965, 93, 233-5 (p); Nature (Lond.), 1965, 207, 807-08; Times, 3 June 1965.]

(Volume V, page 126)

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