McMurchy, The Doctors #1883 *

Honored by Karin McMurchy

Dr. Archibald McMurchy (1851-1936)

North Bay’s first physician, Dr. Archie McMurchy, grew up on a farm in King, ON. A strong student, he graduated in Arts from Queen’s University in 1875 and embarked upon his first career as a mathematics teacher in Pembroke, ON, where he met his future wife, Elizabeth Martha Fraser. He returned to Queen’s and graduated in medicine in 1883, whereupon he joined the Canadian Pacific Railway as physician and surgeon. Charged with tending patients in the area stretching from Chalk River to Sudbury, he arrived in North Bay with the first CPR construction crew in 1883. Archie and Elizabeth married in 1884 and lived briefly in Mattawa while awaiting the opening of the road to North Bay and construction of a house. By 1885 they were settled in North Bay where the family grew to include four children: Jean, Archibald H., Dorothy, and Donald.

Dr. McMurchy provided medical treatment, surgery, and dentistry to CPR employees and their families and also had a general practice. He made calls on foot, on horseback, with a horse and cutter, and by rail handcar. Often he could be found at some lonely point walking along the railway line, whereupon he would be picked up by the train crew and delivered to his destination. With the arrival of the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway, later known as the ONR, his practice area expanded as far north as Haileybury and New Liskeard. Dr. McMurchy devoted half a century of unselfish service to others and commanded love and respect from all who knew him.

Dr. Archibald H. McMurchy (1887-1962)

The second Dr. McMurchy followed in his father’s footsteps and after completing medical school joined his father’s practice. During WWI, Arch travelled overseas as a Canadian Forces medical doctor. He again wanted to serve during WWII, although by then he was in his 50’s and was deemed too old.
Arch and his wife, Anita Watterson, had no children. However, Arch was a doting uncle to his brother Donald’s two children, Donald and Dorothy Ann. ‘Unc’ spent many happy hours with them and frequently took his nephew Donald along on house calls. Don later recalled the pleasure of visiting with his uncle’s patients and their families, often receiving treats or enjoying a meal with them. In fact, it was during these house calls with Unc that young Don acquired a love of Italian food and an appreciation for the ways in which Dr. Arch demonstrated his care and devotion to his patients. Dr. Arch was a faithful, compassionate doctor who was very well-liked by his many patients. Special thanks to the late Mrs. Dorothy White for providing excellent care and companionship to Arch during his final years.

Dr. Archibald Donald (Don) McMurchy (1924-1984)

As his grandfather and uncle before him, Dr. Don McMurchy dedicated many years of service to caring for the people of North Bay and area. He was born in Toronto to Donald James McMurchy, the youngest son of the first Dr. Archibald McMurchy, and his wife the former Elizabeth (Betty) Cummings Strathdee. Don spent his earliest years in Pontypool, ON. In 1929 the young family relocated to North Bay where Don grew up. After high school Don joined the army and was selected for training in an intelligence unit when WWII came to an end. He then attended medical school at the University of Ottawa, graduating in 1952.

Don met his future wife, Karin May Olson, in 1946 while she was attending North Bay Normal School. They married in 1951, and lived first in Ottawa and then in Winnipeg as Don completed his medical training. In 1953 the young couple moved to Wingham, ON. Don joined a general practice and their son Donald and daughter Beth were born. In 1959 the family returned to North Bay where daughter Susan was born. Don’s 26th year as a highly respected local physician was tragically cut short in 1984 when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was known to his many patients and colleagues as a good listener with a warm bedside manner and a great sense of gentle humour. Don loved the outdoors, was an avid reader, talented writer, and imaginative story teller who entertained his young children with tales of adventure. A kind and loving husband and father, he is sorely missed by his wife, children, former patients, and the medical community.