James McGarry

For generations the people of Niagara have known of Doctors named McGarry. Indeed if one heard the surname one assumed it was a medical person.

The fact is that the first of the name to come to Niagara was James McGarry and he was a farmer and business man. He arrived in Welland County from Ireland about 1830. In a day when there were as yet no chartered banks he came to be so trusted by his neighbours that they often brought their savings for him to hold.

James married a Miss Skinner of Niagara Falls. Their son, also named James, was born in Falls View, now part of Niagara Falls, Ontario on 6 April 1835. His early education was received in the schools of Niagara but at thirteen he went to Montreal where he entered a preparatory school with the plan to enter McGill College. He graduated from there with a degree of M.D in 1857 and began the practice of medicine in Perth Ontario. In 1858 he returned to Falls View, where he opened a practice. When the American Civil War broke out he was appointed to the 65th New York Engineers and from 1863 he served as surgeon to that regiment throughout the war. In 1866 he returned to Drummondville, now Niagara Falls, and resumed his practice continuing until his death in 1903 During those years he was county coroner for Welland County and a member of Masonic Lodge. He married Mrs. Esther Martin and they had two children, the only surviving one becoming Dr. James McGarry. The son, James, was born 26 April 1871 in Drummondville.

seven gentlemen standing in the snow with a dead bear in front of them. Dr. James H. McGarry is at the top right. Bear was shot in the fallsview area.(James H. McGarry is top right of this photo. The bear was shot in the fallsview area 2017.10.6)

James, the son of Doctor James, attended elementary and high schools in Niagara Falls, graduating from St. Catharines Collegiate. From there he studied medicine in the University of Toronto from which he graduated with an M.D. degree in 1893. He continued his education at Trinity College completing degrees of MD and CM. He then went to Buffalo to take the medical examination and be licensed to practice in the state of New York. Dr. McGarry was a member of the Ontario Medical Association, the Masonic Order and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was a member of the Anglican parish of Christ Church. In 1893 he married Miss Louise Coulson, the daughter of Richard and Alice Coulson, a coal merchant in Niagara. They had six children. Two sons, James Richard and John Martin, went into practice with their father. They practiced in their clinic on Huron Street. Henry Howard and George Coulson also went into medicine in the University of Toronto.

For more information see: History of the Niagara Peninsula and the Welland Canal by A. E. Coombs

By Fred Habermehl

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