John Knox Blair

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John Knox Blair
John Knox Blair.jpg
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Wellington North
In office
1930 – 1945
Preceded by Duncan Sinclair
Succeeded by Lewis Menary
Personal details
Born September 19, 1873
Caledon, Ontario, Canada
Died November 11, 1950
Nationality British subject
Political party Liberal
Occupation physician, teacher

John Knox Blair (September 19, 1873 – November 11, 1950) was a Canadian politician, physician and teacher.

Blair was born in Caledon, Ontario, Canada. He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1930 election as a Member of the Liberal Party to represent the riding of Wellington North. He was re-elected in 1935 and 1940.

After graduating from high school Dr. Blair taught school for four years before entering the University of Toronto where he graduated in medicine in 1906. He spent the following year as an intern, first at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (Groves Memorial) in Fergus, Ontario with the noted surgeon Dr. Abraham Groves, and then at the Burnside Maternity Hospital in Toronto where he gained experience in obstetrics. In 1907 he moved to Cutler in Northern Ontario under contract to the lumbering companies in that area. There he married Bertha Susan McDowell, a nurse from Fergus. During the next few years he practiced in Ethel and then Rosemont, finally settling in Arthur, Ontario in 1918. He was a family doctor who gained a reputation as an exceptional obstetrician and as a keen diagnostician in the days before diagnostic tools such as X-rays were available. In 1930 the Liberal Association of North Wellington offered him the nomination for the upcoming federal election. North Wellington was a largely rural riding and had sent a Conservative member to Ottawa for many years. A Conservative majority government was elected that year under R. B. Bennett, however Dr. Blair won this seat for the Liberals and held it for the next 15 years until he retired in 1945. He loved his work in Ottawa and was on a number of Parliamentary Committees including the Special Committee on the Criminal Code, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Colonization, and the Standing Committee on Banking and Commerce. Dr. Blair was well respected by members of all parties. Reminiscing about Dr. Blair’s life as a Member of Parliament the Guelph Mercury summarized his career in an article published on May 20, 1950. “In his parliamentary career, he was a constant advocate of such things as pensions for the aged and the principle of family allowances. He stood, too, for the elimination of capital punishment by hanging and was a consistent advocate of reciprocity and greater trade with the United States.” On many of these issues Dr. Blair was well in advance of his times. The Old Age Pension was introduced in 1927 but it was not until 1951 that it became universal and without restrictions . The Family Allowance Act was passed in 1944 by a unanimous vote while Dr. Blair was still a sitting Member of Parliament . The death penalty was not eliminated until 1975, and the Free Trade Agreement was not enacted until 1987 . Dr. and Mrs Blair had three sons, Angus, Kenneth and Norman and eight grandchildren, three of whom followed in their grandfather’s footsteps to become doctors.

 Dr. Groves performed the first known appendectomy in North America on a kitchen table on May 10, 1883.