Anatomy of an Eclectic Mind : The Life and Times of James Douglas Jr.

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Anatomy of an Eclectic Mind : The Life and Times of James Douglas Jr.
James Douglas Jr. (1837-1918), whose father was a Quebec City doctor, medical teacher and founder of the Beauport Lunatic Asylum (today the Centre Hospitalier Robert Giffard), held several careers over his lifetime. First, Douglas studied to become a Presbyterian Minister, studying at Queen's College, Kingston, where he received his license to teach but left the Presbyterian Church before he was ordained. The author points out that Douglas was primarily responsible for making Queen’s into a non-denominational university when he served as its Chancellor in 1912. In the 1860s, Douglas began studying medicine while working with his father at the Beauport Asylum, but soon took up an interest in mining and geology. In 1869, Douglas’s scientific experiments with Dr. T. Sterry Hunt of Laval University led to their discovery of a means of extracting copper from its ore, which was patented as the "Hunt-Douglas" process. The author points out that although Douglas had no formal education in chemistry, he was considered competent enough to fill the Chair of Chemistry at Quebec City's Morrin College from 1871 to 1874 and his evening lectures were among the most popular in the history of the College. In 1875 Douglas began working for a Pennsylvanian copper company, and in 1881 was recruited by the trading company Phelps Dodge, of which he eventually became president, and helped transform it into the Fortune 500 company it is today. During this period he introduced a number of metallurgical innovations in copper mining and amassed a fortune through the copper mining industry of Arizona and Sonora. Douglas was also a philanthropist, donating to Queen's University, to the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, and to Montreal's Protestant Hospital for the Insane, which in 1965 took on the name Douglas Hospital as a tribute to James Douglas, Jr. and his father.
Quebec Heritage News
Vol. 3
no. 10
July-August 2006
Donovan, Patrick. “Anatomy of an Eclectic Mind : The Life and Times of James Douglas Jr.” Quebec Heritage News, August 2006.
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