Fonds C 303 - Abraham Groves fonds

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Abraham Groves fonds

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Reference code

CA ON00009 C 303

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  • 1871-1916, [ca.1930]- [ca.1935], [ca.1980] (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

45 maps
4 centimetres of textual records
13 items of textual records
1 volume of textual records

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Abraham Groves (1847-1935) was a physician in Fergus, Ontario.

Dr. Abraham Groves was born at Peterborough, Ontario on 8 September 1847. The Groves family moved to a farm in Garafraxa Township in the 1850s. Groves attended the Grammar School in Fergus, Ontario. In 1868 he entered the Toronto School of Medicine and graduated from the University of Toronto with his medical degree in 1871. Upon graduation, he returned home to Fergus and established a medical practice.

Groves was well known as a medical innovator and surgeon. In 1881, he was one of the first members of the Ontario Medical Association, in which he served on a number of committees, submitted papers, served as the 2nd vice-president in 1892, and was honoured with Life Membership in 1924. Amongst his many accomplishments, Groves performed the first successful open abdominal surgery on May 5, 1874 and the world's first appendectomy May 10, 1883, the latter in a Fergus farmhouse. Groves' surgical work was generally performed in patients' kitchens. Despite this, Groves sterilized his instruments before it became standard practice in hospitals. He was also the first Canadian physician to report on the use of X-rays to treat cancer.

Groves served as house physician for the Wellington County House of Refuge and was responsible for the construction of the Royal Alexandra Hospital, which opened in 1902. In 1932 he donated the hospital to the Town of Fergus; subsequently, it was renamed the Groves Memorial Hospital.

Groves was actively involved in many facets of community life in Fergus. In the early 1880s he served on the Fergus Village Council. He built the first electric light plant in the area, which supplied the power for arc lamp street-lighting in Elora and Fergus until 1914. Groves was also invested in many local businesses and was active in real estate. Groves practised medicine until the 1930s, when he retired due to failing eyesight. In 1934 he published his memoirs under the title, All in a Day's Work, as well as a book of poetry in 1930. Groves died at Fergus on 12 May 1935.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records created and acquired by Dr. Abraham Groves relating to his medical practice. There are also records included in the fonds that have been assembled by the donor.

The records include maps, certificates and diplomas, a notebook, a tribute poster, as well as hand-written pages of notes and correspondence pertaining to Dr. Groves' life and medical practice. The maps depict the prevalence of disease on a weekly basis annotated on the back presumably by Dr. Groves. The certificates and diplomas confirm his graduation from the University of Toronto and practicing licences from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Alberta and related courses in the North West Territories, Missouri and Michigan. The notebook reflects the period of his life in school, while the tribute poster highlights his career as a physician and surgeon, noting his achievement of 'firsts' in Ontario.

Also included are handwritten notes describing anecdotal events from his life, possibly written by Ethel Burke Groves, his second wife, and his sister, Catharine Bright. There is also correspondence sent to Dr. Groves from Dr. H. O. Walker writing from Detroit, Michigan.

For a more detailed description, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Fonds was acquired by the Archives of Ontario from a Mr. Graham in 1984. Additional records were acquired in 2005 from Mr. Mel Muir from Ethel Burke Groves, Abraham Groves' second wife with the assistance of Dr. Vivian McAlister.


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Restrictions on access

No access restrictions.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Records are in the public domain. Permission of the Archives of Ontario is required for publication.

Finding aids

For a more detailed description, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:

Associated materials

For associated records regarding Abraham Groves and the Wellington County House of Refuge, consult the Wellington County Museum and Archives in Fergus, Ontario.

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Additional accruals are anticipated as part of this collection.

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Title based on contents of fonds.

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Rev. Mar/12.

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Script of description


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