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Jennie Kidd Trout (nee Gowanlock)

Jennie Kidd Trout (nee Gowanlock)

Jennie Kidd Trout (April 21, 1841 - November 10, 1921) was the first woman in Canada legally to become a medical doctor, and was the only woman in Canada licensed to practice medicine until 1880, when Emily Stowe completed the official qualifications.

Jennie Kidd Gowanlock was born in Wooden Mills, Kelso, Jennie (whose name is variously spelled 'Jenny') moved with her parents to Canada in 1847. The Gowanlocks lived just north of Stratford, Ontario where they grew potatoes, turnips, hay, and produced butter on a ten-acre farm. They were members of the Knox Presbyterian Church, the local branch of the Free Kirk.

She had taken a course in teaching after graduation from High School, and had taught until her marriage to Edward Trout in 1865. Thereafter she moved to Toronto where Edward ran a newspaper. Motivated by her own chronic illness, she decided on a medical career, passing her matriculation exam in 1871 and going to study medicine at the University of Toronto.

Trout and Emily Howard Stowe were together the first women admitted to the Toronto School of Medicine, by special arrangement. Trout later transferred to the Women's Medical College in Pennsylvania where she earned her M.D. on March 11, 1875 and became the first licensed female physician in Canada. Trout then opened the Therapeutic and Electrical Institute in Toronto, which specialized in treatments for women involving "galvanic baths or electricity." For six years, she also ran a free dispensary for the poor at the same location. The Institute was quite successful, later opening branches in Brantford and Hamilton, Ontario.

Due to continuing poor health, Trout retired in 1882 to Florida. She was later 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, where she died in 1921.

A Canadian 40 cent postage stamp bearing her portrait, was issued in 1991 to commemorate her achievement as the first woman licensed to practise medicine in Canada.


 
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