Thorburn, James

Surgeon-Major James Thorburn

Surgeon-Major James Thorburn, MD was born in Queenston, Ontario, 21 November 1830, the son of David Thorburn MP for Lincoln County, Upper Canada for many years and who had also served in the militia. The younger Thorburn received his education at the University of Toronto where he graduated as a physician in 1855, and at the University of Edinburgh, where he studied pharmacology.

James Thorburn became a medical doctor in Toronto, Ontario, and a Surgeon-Major in the Queen’s Own Rifles in which role he was present at the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866 and the Belleville Riots in 1877. He was  also a professor of pharmacology and therapeutics at the University of Toronto, a consulting surgeon at the Toronto General Hospital, a physician of the Boys’ Home and the Hospital for Sick Children), and connected with other institutions, both charitable and financial, in his capacity as a physician.

Thorburn contributed approximately 400 articles on medicine and other subjects to journals, and wrote and published the “Manual of Life Insurance Examination” (Toronto, 1887), plus “Life Insurance and the Relations Existing Between It and Medical Men”. He was also elected to the presidency of the Canadian Medical Association in 1895, and represented the association at its annual meeting in Montreal, Quebec in 1896; as well as being the president of the Toronto chapter of the Victorian Order of Nurses. In 1901 he was also elected to the executive of the Toronto branch of the Anti-Consumption League.

He died May 26, 1905 after a presumed heart attack.

Service Record

  • Dates unknown – Served as Surgeon of Independent Company No. 4 prior to formation of Queen’s Own Rifles
  • April 26, 1860 – Appointed Surgeon with newly formed Queen’s Own Rifles
  • June 1866 – Present during the Battle of Ridgeway
  • January 1, 1877 – Traveled with the regiment to the Belleville Riots and where he treated one rioter who was seriously wounded in the groin
  • September 19, 1879 – Promoted Surgeon-Major
  • January 13, 1881 – Retired

5 thoughts on “Thorburn, James”

  1. Curious about James’ year of birth. The opening paragraph seems to indicate that he was born in 1880, but then graduates in 1855… Also puzzling is the date of November 31…
    I will see if I can come up with alternative information and let you know!


  2. Is he the person for which Thorburn Ave. was named? My family settled around Toronto after the clearances but since my father’s Dad died when he was young, I don’t know the roots since I didn’t grow up in Toronto. My Dad taught at Queen’s University.


We welcome your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

"In Pace Paratus – In Peace Prepared"

%d bloggers like this: