Memorable Manitobans: Wilfred Abram Bigelow (1879-1967)
Born in Kingsport, Nova Scotia on 30 November 1879, he came to Winnipeg in 1897 and swept floors in a doctor’s office for three dollars per week. Lamed for life at the age of 16, he learned Latin on his own and graduated from the Manitoba Medical College in 1903.
He first set up medical practice at Souris, then at Brandon in 1906, where in 1915 he founded Canada’s first medical clinic. Bigelow’s clinic was modelled on the Mayo Clinic, and consisted of a group of specialists who worked together to provide medical treatment and who presented the patient with a joint bill. Early partners in the clinic included Lewis James Carter (1915), Herbert Samuel Sharpe (1915), Sidney James Shepherd Peirce (1917), Henry Oliver McDiarmid (1918), and Robert Parker Cromarty (1920). They travelled across southwestern Manitoba by horse and later by automobile for many years.
In 1907, he married Grace Ann Carnegie Gordon (1877-1958) at Minneapolis, Minnesota. They had five children: Mary Grace Bigelow (1908-?, wife of Millard James Grant), John Todd Bigelow (1909-1913), Wilfred Gordon Bigelow, Agnes Amelia Bigelow (1916-2002, wife of Norman Keith McKinnon), and Daniel Reid Bigelow (1919-2012). An enthusiastic angler, he took an annual salmon finishing trip to British Columbia, and was an avid game bird hunter.
He died at Brandon on 13 August 1967 and was buried in the Brandon Cemetery.
Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.
“Bigelow Clinic founder dies,” Brandon Sun, 14 August 1967, page 1.
BGH - 100: A History of Brandon General Hospital, 1883-1983 by F. Madeline Perry, page 30.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
Obituary [Agnes Amelia Bigelow McKinnon], The Globe and Mail.
We thank Sandy Jasper for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 31 March 2022