Dr. John Sinclair McEachern, 1873-1947

May 8, 2014

Dr. John Sinclair McEachern. Source: Glenbow Museum.

Dr. McEachern significantly influenced organized medicine in Canada by helping to:

  • Rescue the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) from near bankruptcy in 1921.
  • Draft the first principles for the CMA's Plan for Health Insurance in Canada (1932-34).
  • Persuade the members of provincial medical associations to federate with the CMA to create a voice for all Canadian physicians (1938).

It is too soon to estimate the full value of McEachern’s contributions to Canadian medicine and to Canada, but he is now known and will be known in future days as one of Canada’s outstanding medical statesmen (Dr. T.C. Routley in a 1948 eulogy).


Canadian Medical Hall of Fame video about the work of Dr. John Sinclair McEachern.

Turning around the Canadian Medical Association (CMA)

He arrived in Calgary (NWT) in 1904, starting the McEachern clinic that lasted until 1978.

In 1908, he became the first President of the Alberta Medical Association from Calgary.

His first CMA contribution came in 1921 when, as a committee of one, he addressed the motion to disband the CMA and successfully presented the plan for its turnaround. He became President of the CMA in 1934. He also chaired the CMA committee that formed the Canadian Cancer Society in 1938 and became its first board chair.

Getting ready for health insurance

His interest in health insurance began in 1929. He served on the CMA’s first study committee and then the Committee on Economics that recommended 17 principles for a national plan in 1934. The CMA accepted those principles in 1935 and used them as the basis for negotiating a national health insurance plan with the Federal Government in 1942.

He was the CMA link with the AMA, when Dr. Archer (the founder of the first hospital in Lamont and an influential and early supporter of a national health program) presented a provincial plan for health insurance in Alberta in 1932.

McEachern foresaw the need to unite the provincial and national medical organizations into one entity to be prepared to face the concept of health insurance. 

Get the whole story!

Read the full profile of Dr. McEachern in Dr. Robert Lampard's "Alberta's Medical History"
Dr. McEachern >> 

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