Dr. John T. Hill
(based on notes compiled by Hardy Salt)
John Travers Hill was born at Larne Islandmagee, Ireland, on April 17, 1873 and was the son of James and Jane Hill, who were farmers. Even as a boy, John showed a great interest in agriculture and grew tomatoes and potatoes for sale. He immigrated with his parents to Napanee, Ontario, where his father was a sea captain on the Great Lakes. In 1895, he studied medicine at Queen’s University where he was on the Rugby ten that won the Canadian championship in 1899.
In 1904 he came to Lloydminster as a medical Doctor where he served a wide area. He went to Scotland in 1908 to further his education in medicine and was awarded with honours the University of Edinburgh degree in medicine, then regarded as the finest medical school in the world. In the spring of 1909 he returned to Lloydminster where he continued his medical practice and was well liked by all.
He was elected as a member of the Town Council and served as Mayor of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan in 1909, 1913, 1921 and 1922. In 1914, he went overseas with the Canadian Forces and served in France as well as other points and later organized three hospitals in England for the Canadian wounded.
In 1917, he married Isabel Scott a ballet teacher in Edinburgh. (They had a family of three sons and a daughter. Unfortunately one of the sons, John, was killed in action while serving in the R. C. A. F. during the Second World War.) In 1919, Doctor Hill was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and the same year he moved to Lloydminster with Mrs. Hill where he resumed his medical practice.
It must have been quite a change for Mrs. Hill, a girl from Edinburgh to be suddenly landed in the Canadian west which in those days was quite primitive. However, she took to the country very well and as we will see later became a very competent farm manager.
Doctor Hill is equally known as an agriculturalist and before and after the war, he and his two brothers, Hugh and Jim, farmed in partnership. They had three farms between them and eventually acquired a fourth farm, one of them being an illustration farm located a mile west from Lloydminster in which Doctor Hill took great interest. It may be of interest to record that the recently built Bishop Lloyd school located at 5524 -
Jim Hill died on September 3, 1923, leaving Hugh and the Doctor as farm partners. Doctor Hill’s interest in agriculture went back a long way. To quote from an interview given by Mrs. Isabel Hill to Allan Bexson and Peggy McAllister on May 15, 1975. "As a young man, Doctor Hill acted as an agricultural agent traveling from Ontario to Great Britain with exports of sheep, cattle and turkeys."
Altogether he made nine trips across the Atlantic so he was an experienced traveler. He won the first prize in Dashaway field peas at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1922, 24, 25 & 26 and as far as we can ascertain this made him world champion by winning in three consecutive years. While the Doctor grew the peas, it was Mrs. Hill that picked them over and selected the required sample of one peck. So altogether it was a joint effort. In 1929, Doctor Hill won the first prize for hard Red Wheat at the Chicago World’s Fair.
At one time, the Hill brothers had over a thousand head of sheep together with ducks and geese all imported from Great Britain. Doctor Hill always had an excellent garden and at one time had seven different strains of poultry for experimental and observation purposes. Realizing the need for an agricultural society in Lloydminster, he donated the present fair grounds to the Fair Board about 1907 which then composed of fifty acres.
The first ten bed hospital was organized by Doctor Hill who later gave it to the town. In 1923 Doctor Hill accepted a position with the Department of Indian Affairs where he served as a Doctor for seven reserves being stationed at Onion Lake with his family. In 1933, he was appointed Indian Agent in addition to his medical duties. One time when returning to Onion Lake in November 1929, from Lloydminster he had what might have been a very serious accident. Guy Huntley was with him and when they approached the river they were not sure that they were on the right trail. Mr. Huntley got out to take a look but the Doctor decided to try the trail he was on. The result being that the car went through the ice into eight or nine feet of water. The Doctor jumped clear of the car into the river and when Mr. Huntley came on the scene all that was showing was the Doctor’s bowler hat. It was with quite some difficulty that Mr. Huntley got him to dry land and they had to walk two miles to Huntley’s in freezing weather. You would have expected the Doctor to get pneumonia, but he never even got a cold. The next morning they chopped the ice from around the car and pulled it out with a team of horses. After a little cleaning up, the car started and the Doctor drove home to Onion Lake.
In 1941, Doctor Hill resigned from his position with the Department of Indian Affairs and returned to Lloydminster. On June 16, 1941, Hugh Hill was killed in a train accident and it was decided that the Doctor would take over the farms and live in the house which was a mile west of Lloydminster. About this time, Doctor Hill got an offer to serve as a medical Doctor for five rural municipalities in the Hughenden area. He took the post and Mrs. Hill and son, Jim; then 13 years of age looked after the farm where there were 25 cows and 1400 chickens. They sold milk in Lloydminster which had to be delivered by 10 AM.
In the meantime, Doctor Hill supervised the four farms and kept in touch with the family by telephone and frequent visits. This went on for a period of ten years and in 1952, due to failing health, he resigned this position and returned to the farm where he remained until his death on December 26, 1957.
In the stockade building in the afternoon of June 16, 1976, a very fitting event took place when the late Messers John T. Hill and Harvey C. Weaver and Matt Alasager were inducted into the Lloydminster Agricultural Hall of Fame. There were about 45 guests present and Allan Bexson, committee chairman took over as M. C. and after his opening remarks called upon the Rev. David Patterson who dedicated the pictures which were then unveiled. Doctor Hill’s by his widow Isabel Hill, H. C. Weaver’s by his daughter Mrs. Ruby Perkins, and Matt Alasager by his nephew, Les Alasager from Maidstone. They are hung in the Lloydminster Agricultural Hail of Fame room in the Stockade building.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, a delicious lunch was served by the ladies present which brought to a close a very memorable occasion.