Originally located at 85 King Street West, this building served continuously as a doctor’s office for six local physicians between 1848 and 1974, when it was donated to the Dundas Museum.
The first doctor to own the property was John Willison, who practiced medicine in Dundas from 1832 until his death in 1834. The actual structure, however, does not appear on assessment records until 1848, at which point Dr. James Mitchell was in possession. The picturesque office was built in the Gothic Revival Style which was meant to evoke the quaint and storybook-like architecture of central Europe. Though this style of building was popular in North America during the 1830s and 40s few examples still stand as they were often constructed almost entirely out of wood.
The building became an icon of Dundas’ main thoroughfare, and was passed down from doctor to doctor well into the twentieth century. Many of these doctors lived in a house which stood next door at 87 King St. West. A storehouse and stable was also attached to the back of the office sometime in the 19th century, and burn marks discovered on the outer wall reveal that it may have barely escaped destruction by fire.
The Dundas doctors who used this office were:
James Mitchell, 1840 – 1854
James McMahon, 1852-1880
David Gibson Inksetter, 1880-1882
James Ross, 1883-1907
Lyman Craig Lauchland, 1907-1935
Clarence Lisle Bates, 1935-1974
In 1974, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) next door, planned a major expansion project that jeopardized the building. Dr. Bates, still occupying the office, decided to move his practice to another King Street location and donate the historic structure to the Dundas Museum & Archives.
As crowds lined the streets, the building was hoisted onto a flatbed truck and driven down the road to its present location on Museum property. Restoration was performed on the building which included the addition of a side door and central staircase. In July of 1976, the Doctor’s Office became the first property in Dundas to be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The Doctor’s Office is a testament to a century and a half of medical practice in Dundas. The almost 130 years through which this office operated was a period of revolutionary advancements, which significantly transformed the practice of medicine.