Dr. William Robert Hall was born on the 10th of February, 1852 in Richmond Hill, Ontario. He was the sixth of 12 children born to Henry Hall and the former Elizabeth Lennon. His father Henry was a successful manufacturer of agricultural implements and a devoted Christian man. Dr. Hall’s siblings were; Hannah, Henry, Ellen, George, Mary, twins James and Thomas, Maria, Elizabeth, Norman and Frank. His brothers, James, Thomas and Frank also became physicians. His father died in Blenheim in 1877.
Dr. William Hall attended Richmond Hill Elementary and Secondary School. According to the 1871 census, the Hall family was living in Harwich Twp, in Chatham-Kent and Mr. Hall’s occupation was listed as a carriage maker. Dr. Hall was 19 years old and his occupation was listed as a “moulder”. In 1874, he started studying medicine at the old Detroit Medical College (which later became the Detroit College of Medicine). He graduated M.D. in 1877.
On the 7th of September, 1880, Dr. Hall married Eleanor Louise Minturn in Detroit. She was born on the 6th of June, 1861 in Guelph, Ontario, the 6th of 8 children born to Adam and Anne Jane Minturn. Her family moved to Detroit when she was a young child. Her younger two sisters were born in Detroit. Her father was a carpenter and her siblings included; Elizabeth, Sarah, Ellen, Louis, Letitia, Alice and Laura.
Dr. and Mrs. Hall had two children; Fredric and Edith.
After practicing medicine for 5 years, Dr. Hall returned for postgraduate studies in New York and Trinity College in Toronto. Between these two institutions he received the degree’s of M.C.P.S.O. in 1884.
At the time of his son’s birth in 1882, the Hall family resided at 72 Sydenham Street in York. Dr. William Hall joined the College of Physicians and Surgeons on the 24th of April, 1884. Dr. Hall moved his family to Chatham in 1885 and he set up a general medical practice on Fifth Street. According to Soutar’s Chatham Directory of 1885, he resided at Oldershaw’s Row on Raleigh Street. That same year, he set up a medical practice with Dr. John Phillips Sivewright in Wallaceburg. Also in 1885, Dr. Hall was named the first Medical Officer of Health, a position he held for the rest of his life. Dr. Hall was a member of the Chatham Medical Society, the Canadian Medical Society, the Pan American Health Officers Association and the Canadian Health Officer’s Association.
According to the 1892 Chatham Directory, Dr. Hall was the Town Physician. According to the 1896 Chatham City Directory, Dr. Hall was in partnership with Dr. William Henry Tye and their office was located at 181 King Street.
Dr. William Hall was nominated for the Conservative candidacy for West Kent in 1898 but failed to win the election. He opened a new medical office on King Street in September of 1900.
In 1902 Dr. Hall was instrumental in coping with an outbreak of smallpox. Dr. Arthur Henry Paget travelled to Chatham from Elora and assisted Dr. Hall. An article appeared in the Elora Express on the 5th of March, 1902 with the following tribute, “To Whom It May Concern: This certifies that Dr. A. H. Paget of Elora, attended professionally smallpox patients, for the City of Chatham, for a period of six weeks, during which time he attended thirty-six patients, all of whom recovered, and none of whom were pitted by the disease. His services were very much appreciated by the city, and by the patients, because he gave entire satisfaction to all. We recommend the doctor for his professional ability, and his sterling qualities as an agreeable and broad minded gentleman. Wm. R. Hall, M.H.O.” The article went on to say that the patients were treated in smallpox tents set up on the exhibition grounds and heated with coal stoves.
According to an article that appeared in the Chatham Daily Planet on the 25th of July, 1903, Dr. Hall had built one of the first cottages in Erieau. According to that same article, Dr. Hall had a near fatal canoe accident in the channel at Erieau. When the canoe capsized he was unable to swim and he clung to the canoe, until he could be rescued. Dr. Hall belonged to a number of fellowships and community organizations, including the I.O.O.F.
Dr. Hall was president of a number of business’s including The Chatham Mineral Water Company, the Chatham Hedge Fence Company and the Chatham Oil Company, which was active in oil development in Kent County. Dr. Hall was an Honorary Captain and paymaster of the 24th Kent Regiment.
Dr. Hall enjoyed fishing in his spare time.
Dr. Hall died on August 21st, 1915. Mrs. Hall died in Chatham on the 9th of May, 1921 at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Dr. and Mrs. Hall are buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham.
*Dr. John Phillips Sivewright, Dr. William Henry Tye and his son Dr. Frederic William Hall are also featured on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
Photo Credit: Anne F.