Memorable Manitobans: John Gunion Rutherford (1857-1923)
Born at Mountain Cross, Newlands Parish, Peeblesshire, Scotland on 25 December 1857, son of Robert Rutherford, he attended school at Glasgow (Scotland) then, in 1875, he came to Canada where he attended the Ontario Agricultural College (Guelph) and Ontario Veterinary College (Toronto). In 1884, he became a veterinary surgeon at Portage la Prairie. He served as a Veterinary Officer with the North West Field Force in 1885, and Veterinary Inspector of Manitoba from 1887 to 1892. He was Chief Veterinary Inspector with the Canada Department of Agriculture (1902 to 1904), Veterinary Director General (1904 to 1912), Livestock Commissioner (1906 to 1912), and Superintendent of Agriculture and Animal Industry, Department of Natural Resources, CPR at Calgary (1912 to 1918). He was editor of the North West Farmer from 1890 to 1894, and the Manitoba Liberal from 1896 to 1900.
In 1887, he married Edith Boultbee of Ancaster, Ontario. They had three daughters and a son. The son died at a young age of bovine tuberculosis contracted from drinking contaminated milk from the family cow. As a result, Rutherford helped to form, and served as chair of, an international commission on the control of bovine tuberculosis. He served as President of the American Veterinary Medical Association from 1909 to 1911, President of the Western Canada Livestock Union, and President of the Horse Breeders’ Association of Manitoba.
He was elected to the Manitoba Legislature for Lakeside in 1892, and acclaimed in 1896 but resigned later that year to stand as a candidate for Macdonald in the federal general election. He was defeated but was elected at a by-election in April 1897, defeated in 1900. He was a commissioner on the Board of Railway Commissioners of Canada from 1918 to 1923.
He became ill while on tour in British Columbia with the railway commissioners. Transported to a hospital near his home at Ottawa, Ontario, he died there on 24 July 1923.
“Dr. Rutherford, rail commissioner, dead”, Manitoba Free Press, 25 July 1923, page 7.
The Canadian Directory of Parliament, 1867-1967, edited by J. K. Johnson, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa [Library and Archives Canada], 1968.
The Miracle of the Empty Beds: A History of Tuberculosis in Canada by George Jasper Wherrett, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977, pages 137-140.
We thank Hugh Whitney and Oliver Bernuetz for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 5 December 2020