What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make – Jane Goodall
Today would have been Jennie Trout’s 117th birthday. I never heard of her until a few minutes ago when I saw an image of her on Google’s logo. Of course, I had to find out who Jennie Trout was. She was the first woman in Canada to become a licensed medical doctor in March 1875. Jennie was the only woman in Canada licensed to practice medicine until July 1880, when Emily Stowe completed the official qualifications.
Jennie Kidd Trout was born in Kelso, Scotland. In 1847, she moved with her parents to Canada. They settled in Stratford, Ontario. After graduating, Jennie became a teacher after taking a teaching course and continued teaching until her marriage to Edward Trout in 1865. The couple moved to Toronto where Edward ran a newspaper.
It was her own battle with “nervous disorders” shortly after her marriage, which made Jennie decide to practice medicine. In 1871, she passed her matriculation exam and studied the University of Toronto. Jennie Trout and Emily Jennings Stowe were the first women admitted to the Toronto School of Medicine, by special arrangement. However, Emily refused to sit her exams in protest of the university’s demeaning treatment of the two women. In the following video is the reenactment of how Jennie stood up to the prejudices of her male counterparts in the classroom.
Jennie ended up transferring to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, where she earned her M.D. on March 11, 1875 and became the first licensed female physician in Canada.
Jennie opened the Therapeutic and Electrical Institute in Toronto where there were specialized treatments for women involving “galvanic baths or electricity.” A galvanic bath uses the components of water and gentle electrical current. You lie in a 34 degree Celsius Bath, electricity is then passed through your body. Galvanic bath’s are mostly used in the treatment of degenerative diseases such as inflammatory arthritis and problems with the joints. The treatment lasts about 15 minutes (SMOKH)
For six years, she ran a free dispensary for the poor at the same location as the Institute which became so successful that branches in Brantford and Hamilton were later opened.
In 1882, due to poor health, Jennie moved to Palma Sola, Florida. She was instrumental in the establishment of a medical school for women at Queen’s University in Kingston. Her family travelled extensively between Florida and Ontario and later moved to Los Angeles, California, where she died in 1921.
In 1991, Canada Post issued a postage stamp in her honour to commemorate her as the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada.
Notes to Women celebrates this phenomenal woman who made history and left an indelible mark in the medical profession. She is an inspiration for us all.