Dr. John Charles Bell was born in Ailsa Craig, Ontario on the 12th of September, 1856. Dr. Bell was the youngest of 10 children born to Archibald Bell and the former Agnes Hood. His parents met and married in Paisley, Scotland and immigrated to Canada in 1832, settling in Lobo Township (Middlesex County). His father was a builder and his siblings were; John Bell (who died in 1852), Elizabeth Bell, Thomas Bell, Archibald Bell, William Bell, Agnes Bell, Harriett Wood Bell, James Anthony Bell and Henry Stephen Bell. Dr. Bell attended St Catherines Collegiate Institute prior to entering medical school.
Dr. Bell attended Trinity Medical School and graduated M.D.,C.M. from The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine in 1884. He set up his medical practice in Merlin in 1885. According to the 1928 Ontario Medical Register, Dr. Bell, joined the College of Physicians and Surgeons on the 12th of July, 1886.
Dr. Bell married Elizabeth Smith on the 19th of January, 1887 in St Thomas, Ontario. Mrs. Bell was born on the 19th of February 1854. She was the youngest of 10 children born to Robert Smith and the former Anna Graham. Her parents were farmers in Harwich Township (Chatham-Kent) and her siblings were; Robert (who was accidentally poisoned and died at the age of 3), Kenneth, twins Marion and Jane, Robert, Isabella, Edward, John and Mary.
Dr. and Mrs. Bell had 5 children; Minnie Edith Bell was born on the 27th of October, 1887, Charles Garland Bell was born on the 31st of August, 1889, Lizzie Beatrice Bell was born on the 26th of August, 1891, Florence Mabel Bell was born on the 14th of September, 1893 and Eva Annie Bell was born on the 26th of March, 1897.
In November of 1895, the Bell family moved to Bothwell when Dr. Bell took over the medical practice of Dr. Conx. The family moved back to Merlin in the summer of 1898 and Dr. Bell became the Medical Officer of Health for the area. In 1905, Dr. Bell went back to school in Edinburgh, Scotland and obtained his L.R.C.P. designation.
Dr. Bell hosted a Liberal rally on the front lawn of his residence in Merlin on the 23rd of August, 1911. The rally was well attended by the public. The Hon. Mackenzie King, the Minister of Labor in 1911 and the future Prime Minister of Canada attended the event and gave a rousing speech.
Dr. Bell was listed in the 1913 Bell Telephone Directory. His address was on Aberdeen Street and his telephone number was 22.
Dr. Bell retired in 1936. He died in London on the 9th of February, 1938. His wife Elizabeth died at her residence on Aberdeen Street in Merlin on the 7th of October, 1938. Dr. and Mrs. Bell were buried at the Pardoville Cemetery in Raleigh Twp (Chatham-Kent).
*Dr. Bell’s brother Archibald Bell, became a judge in Chatham and Judge Bell’s son Dr. Charles Cameron Bell practiced medicine in Chatham-Kent. Dr. Charles Cameron Bell appears on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
**Dr. John Charles Bell’s son Charles Garland Bell attended the University of Western Ontario and graduated M.D. in 1911. Dr. Charles Garland Bell practiced medicine in Lion’s Head, Ontario. He enlisted in the Canadian Army on the 9th of June, 1915 and served in the Medical Corp as a surgeon. After his military service he re-located to the Windsor area. Dr. Charles Garland Bell is featured on the Gathering Our Heroes website.