In eastern Upper Canada, before Confederation, there were at least 65 licensed physicians, most of whom were Canadian graduates of medical schools at McGill or Queen's.
These physicians made a good living even though they seldom collected all their fees. For a working-class family, a single visit by a doctor represented a day's wage. Hence, one only called for the local doctor in extreme need. Otherwise, self-medication was the norm. The local store sold many inexpensive and harmless patent medicines and anxious mothers often consulted either a trusted neighbour or home medicine book.
Most general practitioners, however, were kept busy travelling around the countryside seeing sick people in their own homes. Aside from delivering babies, they treated various ailments by means of common remedies such as bleeding, blistering, or emetics and purgatives to rid the body of the poisons of disease. Surgery at this time was confined to the removal of tumours or amputations and infection was a common risk. The anaesthetic in general use in the 1860s was chloroform administered by a mask. The first medical use of antiseptic sterilization did not occur in Canada until after 1867.
Doctors prepared and dispensed their own medications even though there were pharmacies in larger cities and towns. Rural doctors also pulled teeth although there were licensed dentists in cities who could save them with gold or silver fillings.
The Physician's house at Upper Canada Village is an attractive neo-Grecian cottage which, in its original location in the village of Aultsville was not the home of a physician but was the home of Michael Cook, the man who first bred Holstein cattle in Canada.