John Herbert Sangster, many years a prominent educator, and now one of the leading physicians and surgeons in western Ontario, is a native of London, England, dating his birth March 26, 1831. His grandfather, Alexander Sangster, was an officer in the British army, and served under Wellington in the Peninsular war; and his father, John Alexander Sangster, is a farmer, who married Jane Hayes, and emigrated to the United States in 1832, locating in the city of New York. In 1837 the family removed to Toronto, where our subject was educated in Upper Canada College and subsequently in the University of Victoria College, having graduated in Arts in 1860, and in Medicine in 1864.
Long prior to these dates Dr. Sangster became identified with the educational interests of the Province, and held prominent positions as teacher, author of school literature &c. He became connected with the Provincial Model school in 1848; organized the public schools of Hamilton in 1853, and superintended them from that date to 1858; became First Master of the Provincial Grammar School, Toronto, at the latter date; lecturer in science and mathematics in the Normal School in 1859, and was elevated to the position of Head Master of that school in 1865, and conducted it with distinguished ability until 1871, practicing the medical profession intercurrently. As an educator he is still regarded by the majority of Canadian teachers as almost unrivalled in the Dominion.
Between 1858 and 1871, Dr. Sangster prepared and published ten or eleven school books, with an aggregate of about 2,500 pages, and during that period they were the exclusively authorized text books for the public schools of the Province, Many of them are now superseded by newer books, but very much of the school training of the present generation has been molded on his treatises. It would, in fact, be difficult to over estimate the extent or depth of their influence in developing the vigor and tone of thought among living Canadians.
Dr. Sangster was for twelve years (1859-1871) professor of Chemistry and Botany in the Medical Department of Victoria College, filling that chair with great ability; and for three years of this period also Lecturer on Renal and Vesical Diseases; also for seven years was a member of the Board of Examiners of the Council of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. He is well and favorably known all over the Province.
Prior to the holding of some of these positions, Dr. Sangster removed in 1871 to Chicago, where he spent one year, and it proved a very unfortunate one, as he had at least $8,000 worth of household goods, books, apparatus, and valuable manuscripts destroyed in the great fire of October 9th, of that year. While practicing his profession in that city he was offered the chair of chemistry in the Chicago Medical College.
He returned to Toronto in 1872, and while engaged in the practice of his profession there, was, in 1874, a candidate for teachers’ representative in the then existing Council of Public Intruction, being opposed by Mr. Goldwin Smith, M.A., who succeeded in securing a majority of votes.
In 1874 the Doctor removed to Port Perry, where he is engaged in medical and surgical practice, and has a large and highly remunerative business. He is a man of eminent abilities and great skill, and has the almost unlimited confidence of the community. He is thoroughly devoted to his profession, and zealously attends to his duties.
He is a member of the Church of England, and a generous supporter of religious enterprises and benevolent objects.
Dr. Sangster is making himself one of the most beautiful homes in the County of Ontario. “Beechenhurst” is situated on high grounds, directly on the shore of Lake Scugog, overlooking the whole town from the north, and having a charming southeast view of that lively sheet of water. He has a large brick house, with the front grounds laid out with taste, and adorned with shrubbery, a conservatory attached to the house on the south side, filled with a great variety of plants and flowers, and a grove in the rear, rapidly being converted into a scene of unsurpassed sylvan beauty.