“A remarkable man who could accomplish almost anything related to the health of the people”
Dr. Tupper later held leadership roles in the growing city of Halifax as chief medical officer, as a member of the surgical staff of the provincial and city hospital, and as president of the Medical Society of Nova Scotia. Turning his attention to politics, Dr. Tupper was elected into the Nova Scotia Assembly in 1855 and served as Premier from 1864 to 1867. Despite powerful opposition, Dr. Tupper helped pass the Free Education Act and eventually led Nova Scotia into Confederation. The founding president of the Canadian Medical Association in 1867, he served for three consecutive terms. He also chaired the committee responsible for creating Dalhousie Medical School.
Now 100 years after Dr. Tupper’s death, medical science and practice have progressed to levels beyond imagination for those who worked in primitive conditions without electric lights, reliable diagnostic technologies, or even something as basic as effective treatments for pain and infection. Yet the work of early medical pioneers like Dr. Tupper helped lay the foundation of institutions that sustain scientific progress today.
Dr. Tupper, in his long career as a federal cabinet minister, remained ever a physician and was known for keeping his medical bag under his seat in the House of Commons. In the case of Dr. Tupper, during his political tenure as John A. McDonald’s “right hand man,” there was indeed a doctor in the house. -WLH