Dr. James Rea was born on the 7th of November, 1861 in Eramosa Twp, Wellington County. He was the 3rd of 8 children born to John McLelland Rea and the former Isabella Reid. His parents were farmers and his siblings were; David Rea (who died at the age of 13 of diabetes), Mary Rea (who died at the age of 14), William Rea, Margaret Rea, Jane Rea, Maria Rea and David Rea. Dr. Rea attended local schools including the Fergus High School. He taught school for approximately 3 years, while saving to attend medical school.
Dr. Rea studied medicine at Victoria College and graduated with honors in 1885. He continued his education at The College of Physicians and Surgeons and graduated with honors in 1886. He started his medical practice in Dresden when he took over the practice of Dr. Reynolds Pomeroy. His office was located next to the “Clifford House”. Dr. Rea was listed in the 1886 Elgin/Essex/Kent and Lambton Business Directory as practicing in Dresden.
Dr. Rea married Mary Isabella Robinson at her parents home on Rose Avenue in Toronto on the 14th of June, 1887. Mrs. Rea was born on the 8th of August, 1859 in Toronto, the daughter of George Robinson and the former Isabella Young Marshall. Her father was a carriage manufacturer. According to the 1871 census, Mrs. Robinson had been widowed and she supported herself and her daughter Mary as a dressmaker.
Dr. and Mrs. Rea had three children; Stella Robinson Rea and her twin sister Ethel Isabel Rea were born on the 7th of February, 1888. (Ethel died on the 14th of November, 1888, at the age of 9 months.) Another daughter, Lillian Irena Rea was born on the 9th of March, 1889.
It is not known when Dr. Rea and his family moved to Pickering. He formed a medical practice with Dr. R. M. Bateman for about 18 months, then moved to Toronto. Shortly after his move to Toronto, Dr. Rea was appointed as a coroner. Dr. Rea’s office was located in the rear of his residence which was situated at the corner of Dundas Street and Dovercourt Road. Dr. Rea was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, The Orange Society and he was involved with the YMCA. Dr. Rea dreamed of a hospital facility. He was instrumental in the building of Toronto Western Hospital but sadly, Dr. Rea did not live to see that dream become a reality.
Dr. Rea died on the 17th of November, 1895 at the age of 34. Mrs. Rea died at her residence in Toronto on the 30 of January, 1946. At the time of her death, Mrs. Rea resided at 1265 Dundas St West (Toronto). Dr. and Mrs. Rea were buried at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.
Dr. Rea’s daughter Stella Robinson Rea became a nurse.
*Dr. Reynolds Pomeroy is also featured on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.