Wilson Ruffin Abbott

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Wilson Ruffin Abbott
Died1876 (aged 74–75)
Toronto, Ontario
Resting placeNecropolis Cemetery
43°40′06″N 79°21′37″W / 43.668282°N 79.360259°W / 43.668282; -79.360259
Home townVirginia
Spouse(s)Ellen Toyer

Wilson Ruffin Abbott (1801 – 1876) was an American-born Black Canadian and successful businessman and landowner in Toronto, Ontario. He was the father of Anderson Ruffin Abbott, Canada's first Black physician.


Born to a Scotch-Irish father and a free West African mother in Richmond, Virginia, Wilson Ruffin Abbott left home when he was aged 15 to work as a steward on a Mississippi River steamer.[1]

He married Ellen Toyer, and moved to Mobile, Alabama, where he opened a general grocery store, but left in 1834 after receiving a warning that his store was to be pillaged.[1] In late 1835 or early 1836, he moved to Toronto, Upper Canada, where he prospered as a businessman.[1] He served in the militia that protected Toronto from the rebels in the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion and was elected to Toronto city council in 1840.[2]

His son Anderson Ruffin Abbott in 1861 became the first African Canadian to practise medicine.[3]


Wilson Ruffin Abbott died at age 75 at Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada


  1. ^ a b c Winks, Robin W. (1972). "Wilson Ruffin Abbott". Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. X. Toronto. ISBN 0-8020-3287-7.
  2. ^ Henry, Natasha L. (7 January 2012). Talking About Freedom: Celebrating Emancipation Day in Canada. Dundurn. pp. 49–. ISBN 978-1-4597-0050-5.
  3. ^ Thomas, Owen, "Abbott, Anderson Ruffin", Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.