The March of A Great Man: Dr. Edwin Seaborn (1872-1951)




“The political and military events of a country are the first to be recorded followed by the more intimate history of the principal actors. Ultimately the history of a country is that of its individuals. Causes for the actions of rulers can be discovered in the necessities of the subjects. Diaries written during political or religious upheavals are so biased that the motive of the writing is immediately and continually revealed.”

From: The Value of Diaries, by Dr. Edwin Seaborn

Scrap Book


Shortly following Canada’s involvement in the First World War, Western University offered to establish a hospital unit for overseas service. This offer was initially declined by the government, but in March 1916, Seaborn, and two other Medical Faculty members formally requested that the University renew its offer. Seaborn met with the Acting Minister of Militia in Ottawa later that month, prompting the War Office to accept Western’s offer to furnish a 400-bed hospital. The Board of Governors named Dr. Seaborn Commanding Officer of the newly branded No. 10 Canadian Stationary Hospital on May 2, 1916. Seaborn and a small unit of additional Western appointees embarked for England in July, 1916. There, Seaborn assumed command of the hospitals in Sussex before proceeding to Calais, France in December, 1917. During the War, No. 10 Hospital treated more than 16,000 patients until it was demobilized in April, 1919.
The scrap book is filled with photos of himself, nurses, other officers and patients. When viewed alongside the diary-like History of 10th Stationary Hospital and the letters written by Seaborn to his wife Ina during the war, they piece together a wealth of insight into the daily life of a Canadian solider.

Seaborn understood the historical, and at times cathartic, benefits of keeping a record of his own life, which is why he strived to preserve the historical voice of the many before him.

(ARCC Edwin Seaborn Fonds AFC 20-2)