Dr. Anthony Raeburn Hanks was born August 1st, 1860 in Dawn Township (near Florence), Lambton County. He was the 5th of 9 children born to Anton Hanks and the former Sarah McGuire. His parents were farmers and his siblings were; Elizabeth Ann Hanks, Frances Josephine Hanks, Sarah Electa Hanks, John A. Hanks, Mary Jane Hanks, Francis Joseph Hanks, Donescius Hanks (who died in infancy), Phigenia Alfredia Hanks and William Johnston Hanks (who died at the age of 17). His grandfather Joseph Hanks had emigrated from Germany with his family and the McGuire’s were originally from Dublin, Ireland.
Dr. Hanks was educated in rural schools until the age of 15. He attended Sarnia High School and spent a year teaching public school in Dawn Centre. After that he moved around from Ottawa to St. Catharines and then spent a year teaching in Orford Township. He spent a year studying medicine with a tutor. In the fall of 1881 he started his formal medical studies at Trinity College. In 1884 he practiced medicine as an undergraduate in Forestville, Michigan, thus fulfilling the requirements to obtain his degree from The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. He graduated M.D.,C.M. in 1885. According to the 1928 Ontario Medical Registry, Dr. Hanks joined the College of Physicians and Surgeons on the 29th of April, 1885.
On September 1st, 1886, Dr. Hanks married Rosannah Elizabeth Ridley in the Village of Duart. Mrs. Hanks was born in Malahide Twp (Elgin County) on the 26th of December, 1859. She was the youngest of 5 children and the only daughter of Edward Ridley and the former Sarah King. Her siblings were; William Ridley, Hooper King Ridley, Edward Henderson Ridley and Thomas Henry Ridley. Mrs. Hanks was raised on a farm near Bothwell and according to the 1881 census, she was a school teacher.
Dr. and Mrs. Hanks had two daughters; Hazel Ridley Hanks was born on the 27th of March, 1893 in Oil Springs, (Lambton County) and Edith Marion Hanks was born in Blenheim on the 16th of March 1898.
Initially Dr. Hanks practiced medicine in Oil Springs. Dr. Hanks purchased the medical practice of Dr. Alexander McLeish Shaver in Blenheim in 1893. (Dr. Shaver died in Blenheim on the 4th of May, 1893). Dr. Hanks was appointed as a Coroner in 1893 and shortly thereafter he was appointed as the Medical Officer of Health (M.O.H.). Dr. Hanks took the position as M.O.H. very seriously. He condemned a dance hall on the main street of Blenheim to be unsafe. Once the building had been reinforced, the dance hall was allowed to re-open. Dr. Hanks was listed in the 1900 Ontario Business Directory. In the Bell Telephone Directory of 1913, his phone number was catalogued as 22. Dr. Hanks promoted the pasteurization of milk.
Dr. Hanks served as a Chairman of the Blenheim school board for nearly 42 years. He took time off from his medical practice in Blenheim to study in London, England. After a vacation through Europe, Dr. Hanks returned to his patients in Blenheim.
In 1929, Dr. Hanks was one of the founding members of the Blenheim Rotary Club. Dr. Hanks’ home was located at 34 Catharine Street.
In 1936, Dr. Hanks undertook the task of compiling a list of physicians that had practiced in Chatham-Kent since 1850. Dr. Hanks retired from his position of coroner and as the Medical Officer of Health on the 1st March, 1939. When Dr. Hanks relinquished the position’s of Coroner and M.O.H., the community of Blenheim honoured him with a banquet at the Cadillac Hotel on the 31st of May, 1939. Approximately 100 people were in attendance. The Chatham Daily News (01 April, 1939 edition) reported that he was “One of Ontario’s oldest medical officers of health until his resignation took effect on March 1”. Dr. Ewart Earl McPherson was quoted in the same article as saying that Dr. Hanks had dutifully administered “toxoid” to eliminate diphtheria in Blenheim and the district. Dr. Hanks was presented with a gold-headed cane by his friends and the local municipalities that he had served.
Dr. Hanks retired from his medical practice in 1940.
Mrs. Hanks died in Blenheim on the 29th of March, 1937. Dr. Hanks died at his residence in Blenheim on the 10th of November, 1944. Dr. and Mrs. Hanks were buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Blenheim. His home was sold in 1947 to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 185. The Legion continues to operate out of that location today.
*Dr. Alexander McLeish Shaver is also featured on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
**Dr. Hanks’ younger sister Phigenia Hanks married Dr. Walter Edwin Tiffin. Dr. Tiffin was born near Wallaceburg and practiced medicine in Detroit. (The spelling of Phigenia has been corroborated with numerous sources).
Photo Credit: Anne F.