Historical Plaque Properties

 

Capt. Oscar Cannon M.D. - Surgeon
127 Front Street
1911

 

In 1911 a house was built on the property identified as 127 Front Street, just south of Ontario Street, but it remained vacant for some months until Dr. Oscar Cannon and his wife Robertha Fowlie Russell became the owners and first residents.  In the 1911 census Dr Cannon was living at 117 Waterloo Street as a lodger and it was in September of that year that he and Robertha, a nurse, were married in Exeter, Ontario.

 

Oscar Anson Cannon was born in 1893 in Bruce County, Ontario, one of four children of a farming couple, Ellen Clements and Benjamin Cannon. After graduating in Medicine from the University of Toronto he obtained his license to practice from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in 1908 and came to Stratford where he went into partnership with Dr. J. P. Rankin. He also joined the 28th Perth Regiment and appears in a 1913 photo of the Officers of the Regiment in the Stratford Herald as a Captain.

 

Robertha Fowlie Russell, known as Bertha, his wife, was born in neighbouring Huron County, one of five daughters of Thomas Russell and Margaret Fowlie, both immigrants from Scotland. Her mother, Margaret, died at age 44 of pernicious anemia leaving Thomas to raise his five daughters.  Bertha became a nurse and was working in Midland, Ontario when they were married.

 

Russell Benjamin, their first child, was born in 1912 in Stratford. In April 1915, with World War 1 already underway, Dr. Cannon, already a member of the Perth 28th Regiment, joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force and went overseas as a Captain with the Canadian Army Medical Corps to serve at the Canadian General Hospital set up in Lennos, Gallipoli. From there he saw service in Egypt, back in Ottawa and then in 1917 in China. Later that year when he returned to Canada he was stationed in Halifax when the great explosion took place in the harbour.

 

By the end of the war he held the rank of Lt Col. and had been awarded a British War Medal and a Victory Medal for Distinguished Service Overseas (DSO).

When he left for the warfront in 1915 he and Bertha and their son Russell, age 2, had re-located to Midland in Simcoe County where Bertha had a position as a nurse-superintendent. Tragically Russell died in August that year of Infantile Diarrhea. After the war they moved to Hamilton where he was appointed the chief medical officer of the Steel Company of Canada, ( Stelco) which was created in 1910 when a group of businessmen lead by Lord Beaverbrook ( Max Aitken) brought together five different steel and iron producers and convinced them to merge their efforts.

 

In 1912, Hamilton brothers Clifton and Frank Sherman founded Dominion Foundries and Steel, which would become a second large steel related industry commonly well known by its nickname  “ Dofasco”  later to be adopted as its legal name. Hamilton soon had its own nickname- “ Steeltown”.

 

Oscar and Bertha became the parents of three more children , Donald, born in 1918, a daughter, Margaret, in 1919 and a third son, Robert Henry, in 1923. Donald and Margaret both married and raised families in the Hamilton-Burlington area. Robert followed his father’s legacy by serving in World War 2 as a member of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers. He died in action in March 1945, age 21 and is buried in the Grosbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands.

 

Dr Cannon died in Hamilton on Christmas Eve 1951 at age 69. His widow Roberta died 2 years later at age 68.