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Duncan McNab McEachran (1841-1924)
As founder of the Montreal Veterinary College in 1866, Duncan McNab McEachran was a pioneer in veterinary education in North America. His work influenced the development of his profession and championed an educational model which combined theory, clinical teaching and research into animal disease. McEachran also served as the first Chief Veterinary Inspector for the Dominion and in this role oversaw the establishment of an organized system of veterinary sanitation measures to counter contagious diseases, thus promoting the export of Canadian livestock.
McEachran was born in 1841 to a prominent family in Campbeltown, Scotland. A brilliant student, he studied at the Edinburgh Veterinary College and received a licence to practice before immigrating to Canada in 1862. He settled in Woodstock, Canada West (modern-day Ontario) where he opened a private practice. McEachran was asked by a former classmate to join the staff of Canada’s first veterinary college, the Upper Canada Veterinary School (later the Ontario Veterinary College), which had been established in Toronto in 1862. After three years, however, he decided to leave the college, feeling that its admission standards and academic requirements were inadequate.
In 1866, McEachran relocated to Montréal with the goal of establishing a school in line with his vision of veterinary medicine. This school, the Montreal Veterinary College, opened in 1866, and became linked with McGill College, allowing his students to take classes at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and lending the college credibility. From the outset, the school was recognized as one of the best in North America, owing to its demanding academic program, which combined clinical experience with the study of science. With a grant from the province, a French section was opened in 1877, laying the groundwork for French-language teaching of veterinary medicine in North America. In 1889, the college’s partnership with McGill was formalized when the college became the Faculty of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Science of McGill University. Despite its reputation for excellence, the faculty closed in 1903 due to declining enrolment. Throughout his active life, McEachran enjoyed an excellent reputation as an educator and was a leader of the new veterinary community. He advocated professionalism on par with that required in human medicine, and the modern approach to teaching that he promoted was widely adopted in the 20th century.
McEachran also made a great contribution to the development and adoption of sanitary measures to counter epizootics (epidemics in animal populations) in the late 19th century. Appointed a livestock inspector in 1876 and Chief Veterinary Inspector for the Dominion in 1884, he recommended and oversaw the establishment of a series of animal quarantine stations and encouraged the government to fund research on animal disease and create two Dominion experimental stations.
A part of the Montréal elite, McEachran was involved in municipal affairs, such as the campaign for clean milk, and served as a veterinarian with the Militia Field Battery of Artillery of Montréal from 1877 to 1886. He also played a role in the establishment and management of two large ranches in southwestern Alberta at the turn of the 20th century, managing them from his home in Montréal. A keen horse lover, McEachran raised some fine animals and served as a judge at agricultural competitions in Canada and the United States. McEachran died in Ormstown, Montréal, on October 13, 1924.
Title of the Image: Duncan McNab McEachran, founder of the Montreal Veterinary College
Source of the Image: Wikipedia, Is in Public Domain
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