After my May 1969 graduation as a civil engineer, my wife Lois and I, along with our then-young son James, Sc’90, MBA’95, moved to my paternal grandparents’ community of Orono, Ontario. I completed my articles for Ontario Land Surveying in 1971 and, after working as a Survey Systems Engineer for Hewlett Packard, I returned to the land survey profession in 1974 with an engineering/land surveying practice in picturesque Port Hope, an hour’s drive east of Toronto.
I acquired the practice in 1979, and we waited another five years for the perfect old house in Port Hope to come on the market. Our patience was rewarded when we found our architecturally wonderful Victorian home at 76 John Street. The house is depicted in the 1878 Belden Atlas of Northumberland and Durham as the “residence and office of Dr. W.L. Herriman.” Land registry office records seem to indicate that it could have been built as early as 1869.
The Brown family knew they had found their dream home when they
moved into 76 John Street in Port Hope. However they never dreamed
the house had such close ties to Queen’s medical school.
A few years after we moved our home and business into the house, my daughter Jean Brown, PT’93, prepared a silk screen pattern to replace the plain glass centre panels of the huge front door with gold ones, to match the gold medallions in the blue side panels and to balance the existing red-andblue panels. After all, I thought, a Queen’s graduate should have a tricolour door! I learned subsequently that I had unwittingly restored the door’s original colour scheme, as the centre panel had originally been gold! That set me wondering if this Dr. Herriman might not have been a Queen’s graduate.
I eventually found my answer in an article in the MayJune 1988 issue of the Review. There, on page 14, in an article about the history of Queen’s medical school was a mention of one Weston L. Herriman, who had graduated with an MD degree in the spring of 1855. Can you imagine my amazement?
This revelation was only the first in a series of pleasant surprises. My subsequent research revealed that Herriman had begun his post-graduation practice in the village of Orono, about 25 km northwest of Port Hope.
Weston Leroy Herriman, who was born December 23, 1831, in Haldimand Township, near the town of Cobourg, pursued his studies at the public schools and at normal school, and he taught school for a while. He then took up the study of medicine at Toronto but did not graduate there because of the religion test inserted at that time by the Church of England. With seven others, he appealed to Queen’s University in Kingston to establish a medical college at which degrees might be obtained regardless of a student’s religious belief. This appeal was successful; it coincided with a plan already under consideration by the Board of Trustees of Queen’s College to set up a medical faculty. Of the young men comprising the first graduating class of 1855, 24-year-old Weston Herriman was the top student.
He subsequently outlived his classmates and, for some years, he was the last surviving member of his class. As such, he attended the Medical School’s 50th Jubilee in 1905, playing a prominent role in the function and being singly honoured by both students and faculty. Herriman’ s speech, as presented at the Queen’s Medical Jubilee Celebration (and printed in a 1903 edition of Queen’s Medical Quarterly), is an interesting and very personal history of his years of practice.
“I have been asked why we left Toronto and came to Kingston to graduate,” he said. “For two years, I attended lectures in the medical department of old King’s College, which then became defunct by Act of Parliament and, being forced to leave King’s College, I went to Trinity College medical school and attended lectures for one session. That being the end of three years of studies, I was allowed to be examined in certain subjects, and if I passed, I would be done with them. I understood that all prospective graduates must subscribe to the ’39 articles’ of the creed of the Church of England, but after passing, I was told I could not graduate unless I was a bona fide member of the Church of England, which I was not. I was born a Methodist, have lived a Methodist, and am likely to die a Methodist. So, I and others had to seek shelter elsewhere. We came to Queen’s and graduated without any religious test.”
Upon graduation, Herriman opened his practice in the A BIT OF QUEEN’S HISTORY Continued from page 17 village of Orono; however, he left during the mid-1860’s to serve with the Union Army at Lincoln Hospital in Washington, DC. He returned to practice in Orono, but in 1871, he moved to Port Hope, taking up residence in the house my wife and I now own. In 1897, Herriman relocated his practice to Lindsay and sold his house to his son, William Choate Herriman, who was the founder of the Ontario Hospital at 999 Queen Street in Toronto, now the Clarke Institute.
Herriman’ s Lindsay practice thrived, and he was recognized as a doctor of exceptional ability. He died on October 14, 1908, in his 77th year. His obituary in the Lindsay Post states, “Dr. Herriman was a man of probity and honour and wore the white flower of a spotless life. He was, besides, a cultured gentleman and acknowledged authority in science and literature. Once, when the government offered a prize for competition in examination in scientific agriculture, he entered the field as a candidate and, to the surprise of many of the citizens who were unacquainted with the knowledge he possessed, took first place in the competition against the entire province.”
Weston Leroy Herriman, a distinguished member of Queen’s first-ever medical school class, found his final resting place alongside other members of the Herriman family in Union Cemetery, Port Hope, Ontario.