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In 1988, the Kent Agricultural Hall of Fame was created to honour those that demonstrated unselfish achievement within the realm of agriculture and service to the rural community.
Sketch image of Dr. John R. Macpherson

Macpherson, Dr. John R.


Inducted: October 30, 1991

Dr. John R. Macpherson was the prototype of the beloved country doctor, and he succeeded in combining that 24-hour-a-day jobs with part-time farming and a busy community and political life.

He died, as he lived, serving others. Dr. Macpherson was on rounds at Four Counties General Hospital when he suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 85, more than a decade after he had announced that he was preparing "to slow down a little."

Dr. Macpherson was born in North Dunwich Township, and received his medical training at the University of Western Ontario. He was not only the youngest member of the 1914 graduating class, but the silver medalist.

His service in Kent County began when he purchased the practice of Dr. Peter Davey, and with it, a Model "T" Ford. Those were challenging times for country doctors. Dr. Macpherson recalled later that he had to carry enough equipment on his rounds for emergency surgery, and more than one operation was done on a farm kitchen table, under the most difficult and exacting conditions. A dispensary was operated out of his office.

During the Depression, hard-hit area farmers would sometimes pay him with a chicken or farm produce, and he carried many needy families on his books. He was responsible for saving more than one Orford farm by carrying the mortgage.

Dr. Macpherson was also the Orford Township Health and Welfare Officer for many years, twin responsibilities that allowed him to give full play to his humanitarian instincts. He was able to identify with farm problems because in 1919, he went into a farm partnership with his brother-in-law, John H. (Bea) McKillop. In the Depression, he expanded his farming operation to include Hereford cattle, and maintained his farming interests until 1964.

Dr. Macpherson's service encompassed every aspect of community life. He acted as a Kent County coroner beginning in 1928, and he was on the Boards of the Kent Children's Aid Society, the Red Cross and the Kent County Tuberculosis Association, the forerunner of the Kent Lung Association.

Dr. Macpherson was a senior Elder of the Duart Presbyterian Church and a member of the Highgate Masonic Lodge. He was a charter member of the Ridgetown Rotary Club and a Past District Governor of Rotary.

The lack of East Kent hospital facilities concerned him, and he helped to found the Four Counties General Hospital, where he served as President of its medical staff.

Dr. Macpherson was President of the Kent County Medical Society, a life member of the Ontario Medical Association and a senior member of the Canadian Medical Association.

One of his proudest moments was when his son, Dr. J.A. Macpherson, joined him in the East Kent practice in 1952, taking over the Duart office. Dr. John went into municipal politics and served as Reeve of Highgate for nine years.

When he was elected Kent County Warden in January, 1958, his inaugural address included an expression of concern over low farm prices, a reflection of his unfailing interest in the farm economy, and its impact on so many good friends and neighbours.

The traditional Warden's Banquet later that year gave his fellow Council members and a host of friends the opportunity to recognize Dr. Macpherson for what he was. There was, said one speaker, a need in society for "dedicated greatness" of the kind exemplified in every facet of Dr. Macpherson's life.