Dr. Bessie Laura (Collver) Cathcart was born in Bloomsburg, Ontario on the 20th of May, 1892, the daughter of William Earnest Collver and the former Frances Ethel Loucks. She had a younger brother Raymond, born in 1894 and her parents were farmers. Dr. Cathcart was educated in the Norfolk County area and she graduated from Simcoe High School.
Dr. Cathcart enrolled at The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine in 1910. She was the only girl in her class. After graduating M.B. with honors in 1915 she spent 1 year working at Toronto’s Sick Children Hospital. She first started practicing medicine close to her childhood home in Simcoe, Ontario. According to the 1928 Ontario Medical Register, Dr. Cathcart became a member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons on the 25th of November, 1915.
Dr. Bessie Cathcart married a fellow medical school classmate, Dr. William Allen Cathcart on the 1st of January, 1921 in Port Lambton Ontario. He was born on the 1st of January, 1892, the son of William Cathcart and the former Florence “Flossie” Louisa Selby. He was born in Courtright (Lambton County), Ontario. He was one of 9 children,;his sister Alberta was born in 1889, his brother Selby was born in 1891 and also became a doctor in Sombra, Ontario, Eliza “Bessie” was born in 1893, Clara in 1896, Standish in 1897, Ruth in 1899, Helen in 1901 and Charles in 1902. The family lived in Port Lambton, Ont.
Initially Dr. Cathcart and her husband set up their joint practice in Port Lambton. They moved their practice and their home to Wallaceburg, Ontario in 1934. Their home was located at 135 Margaret Ave. They were the parents of a daughter, Raymona (who became a nurse) and a son William.
Dr. William Allen Cathcart was killed in an automobile accident on the 7th of June 1938.
Dr. Bessie Cathcart enjoyed working with children and in Obstetric’s. She was the Medical Officer of Health for 8 years on Walpole Island Reserve. When the Sydenham District Hospital opened in 1957, Dr. Cathcart was the Chief of Physical Medicine.
Dr. Cathcart loved to cook and work in her garden. She loved horses.
Dr. Cathcart retired in October of 1966. Dr. Cathcart died in Guelph on the 9th of December 1979. She was buried beside her husband at the Sutherland Cemetery near Courtright, Ontario.
*Her husband Dr. William Allen Cathcart also appears on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.