MORRIN, Joseph (1794-1861)

Joseph Morrin
was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, on October 19th 1794.

The Morrin family migrated to Quebec City in 1798. Joseph Morrin completed his pre-university studies at Dr. Wilkie’s school. He then took up an apprenticeship in medicine with James Cockburn, surgeon and pharmacist in Quebec City. He completed his studies at the London Hospital in England and at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edimburgh, but he did not obtain a degree from these institutions. Regardless, he was granted a license to practice medicine in Quebec in 1815.

He opened his medical office around 1818 and founded a hospital for sailors. In 1826, he joined the medical personnel of the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec and took part in the foundation of the Société médicale de Québec. As a commissioner for the Quebec Board of Health, Morrin participated in the fight against the cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1834.

In 1836, Morrin became justice of the peace responsible for the administration of the city of Québec. He was alderman from 1840 to 1842 and from 1850 to 1854. He was mayor of Quebec for two mandates in 1855-56 and in 1857-58, becoming the first mayor of Quebec elected directly by the population. During his mandates, the City reorganized its police services and improved street lighting. Morrin lobbied to have Quebec City recognized as the capital of Canada, to no avail.

Morrin participated in the foundation of the Marine and Emigrant Hospital (1834), the Beauport Lunatic Asylum (1845), the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Lower Canada (1847) and the École de Médecine de Québec (1848), which was integrated to Laval University’s medical faculty in 1852. He also volunteered for the Saint Andrew’s Society of Québec, which provided assistance to migrants from Scotland, and served as its president in 1856.

He died in Quebec City on August 24th 1861. He is buried at Mount Hermon Cemetery in Quebec. He left behind an important sum of money that led to the foundation of Morrin College.

He married Catherine Evans in Quebec City in 1817. Following her death, he married Maria Orkney in Quebec City in 1852.

– Patrick Donovan, June 2015


Collection Literary and Historical Society of Quebec Collection de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec Archives de la ville de Montréal