Dr. Gordon Hall Rutherford was born in Blenheim, Ontario on the 1st of September, 1900. Dr. Rutherford’s father James Rutherford, was born in Scotland in 1853 and his family emigrated to Canada in 1856. James Rutherford was the head of the Rutherford Milling Company. Dr. Rutherford’s mother was the former Laura Minerva “Minnie” Burk. (Her mothers maiden name was Hall, which was passed on to Dr. Rutherford.) Dr. Rutherford was the 6th of 7 children and his siblings were; Jessie Irene Rutherford, James Douglas Rutherford, Wilfred Burk Rutherford, Glen Cameron Rutherford, Elizabeth Rutherford and John M. Rutherford. His sister Elizabeth was born on the 6th of October, 1896 and died of meningitis on the 20th of November 1906. To his family and friends, Dr. Rutherford had the nickname, “Hiker”.
Dr. Rutherford attended the Blenheim Public School and the Blenheim High School. He enjoyed playing baseball and running. Dr. Rutherford “altered” his age to enlist in WWI. He stated on his enlistment, dated November 28th, 1916 that he was born on the 1st of September 1898 instead of using his correct year of birth (1900). Dr. Rutherford served in France with the 63rd Battalion as a gunner. He wrote to his father on the 6th of June, 1917 and told him that he had visited Robbie Burns’ home in Scotland when he was on leave. He advised his father that if he ever visited the home of Robbie Burns, he should look up his name in the visitor’s guest book on the 4th of June, 1917. He also told his father that he had visited his fathers childhood home in Aberfeldy.
Dr. Rutherford wrote in a letter dated July 27th, 1917 that he had received several copies of the Blenheim News Tribune and he had met up with Capt. Clive McAlister. At the time, Dr. Rutherford was in London, England. He wrote a letter to his sister Jessie, dated November 15th, 1918, 3 days after the Armistice. In this letter he wrote that he was in Mons, France. He wrote, “At present we are cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, getting ready for the march through Belgium. It is rumoured that we are going right in to Germany. We expect to start off on our journey on Sunday, so if you don’t hear from me, you’ll know that I’m going on to the Rhine.” Captain Clive McAlister also became a physician.
Dr. Rutherford survived WWI and after being discharged at the end of the war, he attended Woodstock Baptist College for Boys. He went on to study medicine at The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine graduating M.B. in 1927. While he was at university Dr. Rutherford played rugby and he was the Class President in his third year. In his final year he was the President of the Medical Society. Dr. Rutherford went to New York City to specialize in surgery at St. Frances Hospital. He graduated in 1928.
While he was in New York Dr. Rutherford married Dellmarion Thumb on the 23rd of November, 1928. Mrs. Rutherford was born near in Harwich Township near Ridgetown, Ontario on the 4th of April, 1901. She was the only child of John Henry Thumb and the former Emma Hughes, who were farmers. Both of her parents died in 1926 and they are buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Ridgetown. Mrs. Rutherford was an artist, attending art school in New York when she met her husband.
After their marriage in 1928, Dr. and Mrs. Rutherford lived in Chatham. Their home was located at 288 Queen Street and their son, John Thumb Rutherford was born in Chatham on the 8th of November, 1930.
Dr. Rutherford was the Medical Officer to the 24th Kent Regiment. He enjoyed playing sports and he was the vice-president of the City Softball League.
Dr. Rutherford died suddenly on the 4th of January, 1932 at his office. Dr. Rutherford shared office space in the Hicks Building with Dr. Carmen White, who tried valiantly to save Dr. Rutherford’s life. Dr. Rutherford was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Blenheim.
In 1936 Mrs. Rutherford was selected by the Canadian government as one of the artists commissioned to paint the unveiling of the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge. According to a voter list of 1949 Mrs. Rutherford was living at 50 King Street West and she was working as a bookkeeper.
Mrs. Rutherford married Alex Sinclair, who was the principal of Sarnia Collegiate Institute. She was one of the founding members of the Zonta Club in Sarnia. After Mr. Sinclair retired, they moved to San Diego, California.
Mrs. Rutherford-Sinclair died at the Sarnia General Hospital on the 12th of October 1965. She was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in the Rutherford family plot. (Note – There is no tombstone for Dr. and Mrs. Rutherford at Evergreen Cemetery.)
*Dr. Gordon Hall Rutherford is also featured on the ‘Gathering Our Heroes’ website. Dr. Rutherford’s brother Wilfrid Burk Rutherford, also became a physician, but he did not practice medicine in Chatham-Kent. Dr. Wilfred Rutherford served in WWI and WWII and he appears on the ‘Gathering Our Heroes’ website.
**Dr. Carmen Carmen White and Dr. Clive McAlister also appear on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
Photo’s of Dr. Rutherford: Courtesy of Mr. Jim Rutherford.