Robert Baird McClure

Robert Baird McClure, medical missionary (b at Portland, Ore 23 Nov 1900; d at Toronto 10 Nov 1991).

McClure, Robert Baird

Robert Baird McClure, medical missionary (b at Portland, Ore 23 Nov 1900; d at Toronto 10 Nov 1991). The son of Canadian medical missionaries in China, Dr McClure went to Henan [Honan], China, in 1923, serving as surgeon and medical educator and helping to establish the Hwaiking rural medical system. When war broke out between Japan and China in 1937, he became field director for the International Red Cross in central China. From 1941 to 1946, he led the Friends Ambulance Unit in China, providing supplies, medical treatment, public-health services and mobile surgery to the war ravaged country.

With the end of foreign missions in China, McClure provided medical service to the Palestinian refugees in Gaza 1950-54, and superintended the Ratlam hospital in India 1954-67. As always, he combined his surgery with public health and training for local medical personnel. He returned to Toronto in 1968 and served as the first nonordained moderator of the UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA 1968-71.

He spent his retirement practising medicine in Borneo, rural Peru, the Caribbean, Zaire and a native community on the BC coast. In his eighties, he continued his fight for the welfare of the Third World. His strong will, independence and quick temper exasperated generations of friends as well as critics; yet his heroic self-sacrifice on behalf of the distressed around the world made him one of the true humanitarians of the 20th century. In 1985 McClure received the Man of the Year Peace Award of the Lester B. Pearson Peace Park.


Further Reading

  • M. Scott, McClure: The China Years of Bob McClure (1977) and McClure: Years of Challenge (1979).