Homeopathy in Quebec

Homeopathy in Quebec

John George Rosenstein, a German immigrant who had come from the United States, was allowed, in summer 1844 to "test" homeopathic therapy in the Montreal General Hospital. Not showing improvements on the patients, the experiments were stopped - satisfying the governors of the hospital and the Montreal press. This stopped homeopathy for the next 20 years in Quebec.

Arthur Fisher began practicing homeopathy as soon as he obtained the right of medical practice in 1842, but he never publicly declared his homeopathic practice. Two other French-Canadian homeopathic supporters were Joseph Morrin, a physician in Québec City, and a Mr. Fargues who bequeathed to McGill University an amount of 6000 English pounds to establish a chair of homeopathy in his name. It is unknown where the money eventually went.

Joseph Morrin trained Pierre-Martial Bardy who became interested in homeopathy after a trip to the USA in 1847. The 1854 cholera epidemic gave him the opportunity to use homeopathy. The Montreal Homeopathic Association (MHA) was founded by F. E. Grafton in 1863 and operated a homeopathic dispensary for the city's poor. In 1865, legal recognition for the MHA was granted. The dispensary ran for two years. In 1894 the Montreal Homeopathic Hospital was opened. A year later, a nurses' school was created in the hospital. In 1908, it was a 50-bed hospital. The hospital moved to Marlowe Avenue in 1931, and in 1952 changed its name to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and, like other homeopathic hospitals in the USA, gradually became allopathic.

Most homeopaths of the MHA were English-speaking and trained in the UK and USA. Only one member was a French-Canadian (G.A.D. Delporte who received his diploma in 1912 and was still practicing in 1970, at 86 years old!). Seven women were members of the MHA; from Laura Müller in 1895 to Martha Graham Robson who was the last, in 1961, to obtain a licence. She died in London, England, in 1974. The MHA never exceeded 81 members.

At the end of the l970s, European French-speaking laymen re-introduced homeopathy in an eclectic way, combining osteopathy, naturopathy, "pluralistic," and "complex" homeopathy. Several pharmacies from France and Belgium established distribution outlets for their products in Quebec. To insure legal protection, in November 1989, the Syndicat Professionnel des Homéopathes du Québec (SPHQ) was formed.

The SPHQ established statutes and rules, an ethics code, and a 1500-hour training program.

Pressured by the "college of doctors" who neither recognize homeopathy nor allow their members to practice it, the Government recently enacted new laws allowing homeopathy to be practiced only by MDs. The Quebec courts have ruled the practice of homeopathy violated the law requiring a medical license. The SPHQ's future is in doubt, as part of its mandate was to help provide legal protection for its members, which now cannot happen.