Carleton Lamont MacMillan | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Carleton Lamont MacMillan

Carleton Lamont “Monty” MacMillan, CM, physician, politician, writer (born April 1903 in Goldboro, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia; died 10 February 1978 in Baddeck, Nova Scotia). MacMillan established a medical practice in Baddeck, where he practiced for nearly 40 years (1928–66). He was also a Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly, representing Victoria County in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 1949 to 1967. MacMillan wrote Memoirs of a Cape Breton Doctor (1975), which has been compared to veterinarian James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small (1972).

Photo of Dr. Claremont Lamont MacMillan

Education and Family

Carleton Lamont “Monty” MacMillan was born in Goldboro, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, in 1903 to William H. and Contance E. MacMillan (née Griffin). He had two sisters, Netta Dillion (née MacMillan) and Olive. MacMillan lived in Guysborough County until 1919, when he moved to Sydney to attend Sydney Academy. After graduating, he attended Acadia University for a year before beginning medical studies at Dalhousie Medical School, graduating in 1928. MacMillan married Ethelean Parker, with whom he had two children, son and namesake C. Lamont MacMillan Jr. and daughter Connie.

Medical Practice

In 1928, MacMillan set up his medical practice in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, where he practiced until 1966. For nearly 40 years, MacMillan travelled the length and breadth of Victoria County, Cape Breton Island. During that time, he was a member of the Canadian Medical Association and the Nova Scotia Medical Association.

MacMillan was also influential in the establishment of the Victoria County Memorial Hospital, which opened in Baddeck in 1949. The 37-room hospital was operated by the Canadian Red Cross and employed six nurses. MacMillan was appointed administrator, assisted by Dr. Frank MacLeod of Inverness. (A newer and larger hospital was later constructed and opened in 1995.)

In the early 1960s, MacMillan’s son, C. Lamont Jr., graduated from the Dalhousie University Medical School of Medicine and joined his father’s practice in Baddeck. Both father “Monty” and son “Monty, Jr.” were known to care for their patients as if they were family. Four years later, Monty Jr. returned to Halifax and, following further medical training in radiology and musculoskeletal imaging, became a highly respected medical educator at Dalhousie University Medical School.

Memoirs of a Cape Breton Doctor

MacMillan later published his experiences as a doctor in rural Cape Breton Island in the book Memoirs of a Cape Breton Doctor (1975, 2010). In his memoirs, MacMillan recounted stories of early 20th century country medical practice, where hospitals were few and distant and doctors regularly made house calls.

In the opening lines of the preface, MacMillan wrote,

When I started practicing in Baddeck in 1928, there was no hospital in the area. Maternity cases were all handled in the home. Roads were primitive by today’s standards, and no one ever dreamed of plowed roads in the winter. There were very few days in the winter months that I didn’t do at least fifty miles in the horse and sleigh... A week or more without sleep was common. The weather was unpredictable and, in winter and spring, often foul... Yet despite the weather, and road conditions, my years in Victoria County were happy ones.

The book’s original title, Hang the Lantern on the Gate, was a reference to his request that patients or their families hang a lantern outside to help him locate their house at night or during a winter storm. His memoirs have been compared to James Herriot’s book All Creatures Great and Small (1972) about Herriot’s experiences as a veterinarian in Yorkshire. (See also History of Medicine to 1950).

Political Service

In 1949, MacMillan was elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly as a Liberal member, representing Victoria County. He served till 1967.

Honours and Awards

In the foreword to Memoirs of a Cape Breton Doctor, Senator Henry D. Hicks wrote, “it did not take long for those of us who were his colleagues in the legislature to realize that [MacMillan] was a real humanitarian who cared for people and, indeed, had spent a lifetime caring for people.”

In 1972, MacMillan was awarded the Order of Canada in recognition of his many contributions to the community of Baddeck, Nova Scotia. In 1977, he was honoured with a lifetime membership in the Canadian Medical Association. He was also honoured by the community of Baddeck, which declared Dr. MacMillan Day an official day of celebration in recognition of his service to the community.

For his service as a Nova Scotia Member of the Legislative Assembly, the ferry that traveled between Grand Narrows and Iona, Cape Breton, was named C. Monty MacMillan. It was in service from 1971 to1993, when it was replaced by the Barra Strait Bridge.

Other Interests and Organizations

MacMillan was a past master of St. Marks Lodge No. 35, AF and AM, chairman and life member of the Baddeck Public Library, a Rotarian and a member of the Board of Trade and the Bras d’Or Yacht Club.

Further Reading

External Links