Wednesday, March 28, 2012

grave post #13

Another random grave stone.

I was meeting a friend for dinner the other week and was a little early, so while waiting for her to get home from work, I had a quick wander through Mt  Pleasant Cemetery. I drove around and whenever I saw something interesting I popped out of my car and snapped a photo or two before continuing on. This is how I got last week's headstone. I am not sure why I took a picture of this headstone. It is rather simple and unassuming. There is not really anything unusual or interesting about it. And it is not even a very good photo.

I possibly took it as a distraction from taking a casual shot of these two sketchers I found nearby.

But, looking at it later at home, I did a bit of research, thinking that as a M.D. there might be more information on this R.W. Bruce Smith
Immediately, his name came up and I discovered that he was an Inspector of Hospitals for Ontario. He also seemed to be an Inspector of Prisons at one time.
Married to Mary McLachan (also spelled McLauchlan), they had a daughter, Ella, who married a Thomas Clendinnen and seems to have moved to Ottawa as she is buried in Beechwood Cemetery there. Thomas Clendinnen was in real estate, but was also the offspring of a physician, although his father, Robert Clendinnen, surgeon, died at age 40 of alcoholism.

Other than that, I had trouble finding anything personal about Dr Bruce Smith. I wondered what the R.W. stood for. I wondered if he died overseas in the war in 1916. His name came up most often in connection with articles regarding 'bulletin of the hospital for the insane', so he seemed to have been a prolific writer. Then I found something small but significant and inconsistent, and which opened up the search a little more.  A -. A hyphen. Which could explain why he was most often referred to as Dr [R.W.] Bruce Smith and not Dr Smith. It doesn't explain why his head stone says simply 'Smith', though. Maybe he found it easier to go by the very last of his names.

In one of these bulletins of the Ontario Hospitals for the Insane from 3 April 1916, if you read through it, you will find inserted an 'in memoriam'
As the Bulletin goes to press we are shocked by
the sad news of the decease of its Author and Editor — 
Dr. R. W. Bruce Smith. The end came peacefully to 
the Doctor, while in his home surrounded by his family, 
at five o'clock on Tuesday morning, the 28th of March, 
after an illness of more than a year's duration. 
He was born in Mitchell Ontario on 9 May 1857, the son of a Methodist clergyman. He started university as an arts student, but soon changed over to medicine. A physician for 15 years, he was elected President of the Medical Association in 1894 and in the same year was appointed as Assistant Physician of the Hospital for the Insane in Hamilton, moving on to the Eastern Hospital for the Insane in Brockville. When, in 1904, he was appointed Inspector of Hospitals and Charities  this opened up a new field for Dr. Bruce Smith's usefulness, and one in which he  became very widely known and most highly respected throughout the Province of Ontario. 
More from the Bulletin:
He always had a sympathy for those engaged in the management of the hospitals, and encouraged every effort on their part tending to the betterment of
the patient. He was broad in his outlook, and in every 
possible field he sought information, both from personal 
contact with these institutions, and from various maga- 
zines bearing on hospital administration from abroad. 
Where these innovations would be helpful in Ontario he 
adopted them. 
He recognized the importance of the trained nurse in the adoption of true hospital  methods for the care of the mentally sick. He was appointed Chairman of the         Examining Board for the mental nurses, a position which he held up to the time of   his decease. 

Another important field of Doctor Smith's work was 
centred in the editing of the Bulletin. This little pub- 
lication was one of his hobbies, and where he found that 
a medical officer was doing a bit of original research in 
a quiet way the Doctor would suggest that an article 
along these lines would be welcomed in the Bulletin. 
Dr. Bruce Smith had a wide, wholesome sympathy for the individual sufferer, and 
in every sphere in which his official life lay he was ready to extend a helpful 
hand and give words of encouragement. He was never more pleased than when he 
could recommend an appointment or promotion to some honest worker in his service. In a true sense he was humanitarian, and his work leaves a grateful memory in 
the hearts of many people in Ontario.
And, in a happy co-incidence, today is the 96th anniversary of his death.
See more stories at Taphophile Tragics

Everything in the smaller type is from the 'Bulletin' and I don't know why the font and spacings keeps changing, but it is late and I give up.
Does anyone else hate the new look Blogger???


  1. I find myself at a point of "Gracious." As in, I can't believe how much you were able to find--even though I know the Web makes it possible, I still can't believe it. So now I've moved from "Gracious" to "Wow."

    What a cool pursuit you have here, in doing this.

  2. I like the little hint of green on the headstone. So temporary and will be gone soon.

  3. quite a big grave!
    must be hard to work with "insane" patients.
    i always wonder why people put their title on the grave (like MD or Dr.), maybe longer ago that was more normal (like in this case). but nowadays?

  4. Interesting post! Great to see those people sketching in the cemetery - somehow we don;t visit cemeteries often enough and it's good to see some people actually do go there to take photos, sketch or do some research!

  5. What I have found is that EVERY SINGLE person had something interesting in their life that is worthy of recalling. He seemed to have found the perfect profession as he was eager to go the extra mile for people...Great research and bio!!!

  6. What an interesting discovery! And a very unusual headstone. Makes me sorry I can't get to an oldish cemetery. Though perhaps I ought to start on my own church's graveyard!

  7. Well, wouldn't Dr Bruce Smith be suprised to find we all knew about him from your blog?

  8. I am finding this, too, Sanna. I start off with nothing but a hunch, and pretty soon I have a wonderful little story unfolding. The 'Bruce-Smith' is one that I would never have guessed at. I like the two 'sketchers', too. I was at our Rookwood Necropolis last Sunday, and there were two fellows perched each on a marker, eating sandwiches from a plastic lunch box. I thought how perfect!

  9. How very interesting. I often wonder about the occupants of graves and it's good to see that you have followed up and discovered some of the detail of this man.


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