Biography of Alexander R. Stephen, M. D.
Alexander Richard Stephen, the pioneer Physician and Surgeon, at Collingwood is a grandson of Alexander Stephen, author of “Memoirs of John Horne Tooke,” and several biographies and obituaries, and son of Thomas Stephen, an Ensign in the First Regiment of Foot or Royal Scots at the battle of Waterloo, and was born at Tunbridge-Wells, Kent, England, February 24, 1827. His father was wounded at the battle of Waterloo, and the son has the original letter sent to his father, containing a remittance of twenty-five pounds, called ” blood money,” presented to him on account of the wound received. He has also his Commission, dated September 23rd, 1814, he being only sixteen years old, yet carrying the colors in that memorable conflict, the result of which was peace to the world. The son has also the Waterloo medal, struck for his father. The mother of our subject was a daughter of Rev. Richard and Lady Elizabeth Brickenden, and daughter of Lord Cavan.
Young Alexander was educated partly in his native country, and partly in the island of Antigua, West Indies; came to Canada about 1845; was an Ensign and Lieutenant of a colored company of incorporated militia, stationed on the Welland Canal about four years, and at the same time was engaged in the study of medicine. At the end of the four years the company was disbanded, and he continued the study of medicine; attended medical lectures at Buffalo, N. Y. and Toronto; received the degree of M.D. at the latter city, and went to Penetanguishene in medical charge of a company of enrolled pensioners and a tribe of Indians.
At the end of three years, Dr. Stephen settled at Collingwood, then just starting, Charles Macdonnell, now Mayor of the town, and one or two other persons being here at that time. Here he has practiced his profession for more than a quarter of a century, being the oldest and best known physician along the line of the Georgian Bay having been diverted, however, a few times, for a short season only, by his connection with the military. A few years after locating in Collingwood, he raised a rifle company, and had command of it for two or three years. When, on account of the St. Alban’s Raid, the forces went to Niagara, lie accompanied them as Major of the battalion under Col. Durie, now Assistant Adjutant-General, remaining there four months. A little later, he went to Port Colborne, in command of four companies and the Welland Battery of Artillery. He was there about two months, returning in April, and the following June, in command of a battalion of ten companies, he joined the force under Col. Lowney, reaching Fort Erie the day after the fight there with the Fenians. The next year he went as Lieutenant-Colonel of the Simcoe battalion under Col. Woolsey, to Thorold, and spent a few weeks in the drill camp. Finding that these military episodes interfered with his practice, the doctor retired some years ago, retaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He is devoting his attention very closely to his business, which is quite large.
Dr. Stephen was in the first Town ‘Council; has been a Coroner of the county for fifteen years, and has been Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the High School, now Collegiate Institute, from its establishment to the present time. He is making himself quite useful as a citizen, irrespective of his profession, in which he has a highly respectable standing. He is President of the Mechanics’ Institute, and has always been an active member of that institution, and is also President of the Conservative Association of Collingwood, and takes a deep interest in politics, especially during elections. He is connected with the Church of England; was warden of All Saints’ Church, Collingwood, for a number of years; is a delegate to the Provincial Synod, and is quite active and prominent in Church matters.
In July, 1851, the Doctor married Sarah, daughter of the Hon. Thomas Parke, formerly Surveyor-General of Ontario, and afterwards Collector of Customs, at St. Catharines; and of nine children of whom Mrs. Stephen has been the mother, eight are living. Richard Miln is practicing medicine on the island of Manitoulin; Thomas Henry Algernon is in the Federal Bank at London, Ont.; and the other six are securing their education in the local schools.