Dr. James Maclaren Wallace, medical superintendent of the Hamilton Insane Asylum, was born February 5, 1837, at Kirkintilloch, a place situated about six miles from Glasgow, Scotland.
He is a son of Robert Wallace, a merchant and manufacturer, and Margaret nee MacLaren. His primary education was derived from the parish school in his native place, afterwards attending the grammar school, in Glasgow, passing thence to the University, where after passing a course of medical study he took the diploma in 1859. Very soon thereafter the Dr. left Scotland, and spent about a year in practice in the north of England.
In 1861, he bade the old country farewell and made Canada his home, settling in Spencerville, Grenville County, Ontario. Here he rapidly acquired a large practice, and soon had the field all to himself. To show how quickly he came into favor, it is only necessary to mention the fact that when he settled in Spencerville, he found three physicians already in practice, but within the first six months one of them left, and within the year the other two followed his example, leaving Dr. Wallace to do the work of all three. Young, strong and capable of enduring great fatigue, he continued his arduous duties for about fifteen years, establishing a reputation second to none in that part of the Province for ability. He took the degree of M.D. at the University of Trinity College, Toronto, in 1873.
In 1876, when the asylum for idiots was opened at Orillia, Ontario, Dr. Wallace was appointed medical superintendent by the Government. As it would afford him more time for reading and study, as well as a desirable respite from over work, he accepted the office and at once set to work to organize the institution into good working order. He remained in Orillia but little more than seven months, owing to the death of Dr. Lander, superintendent of the London Asylum, in 1877. This event, through the system of promotion observed in the government of these institutions, took Dr. Bucke from Hamilton to London, and Dr. Wallace from Orillia to Hamilton, where he has since remained. The asylum which he has in charge is a large, finely built structure, beautifully situated on top of the mountain overlooking the city of Hamilton and Burlington Bay. It was originally intended as an asylum for inebriates, but after the advent of Dr. Wallace, it was enlarged to accommodate over 500 patients, and placed on the same footing as the insane asylums at Kingston, Toronto and London, drawing its inmates from ten counties, the same as each of the others. There are now in the institution over 400 patients. Dr. Wallace, previous to his appointment, never made any specialty of the study of insanity, but since his connection with the asylums, he has been a hard student of all phases of that dread disease, sparing no pains or trouble to improve his ability, if possible, for the responsible duties of his office. He is very fond of reading and is an occasional contributor to medical periodicals.
In political and religious views the Doctor is respectively, a Reformer and a Presbyterian. Dr. Wallace was married in 1859, at Glasgow, Scotland, to Jane Agnes, daughter of Richard Craig, of Newcastle on Tyne, England, by whom he has six children living.
The Doctor is a man who does not look his age, though that is only forty-three, by several years, and is the possessor of a remarkable constitution, never having been sick an hour in his life.