Ferguson, Robert George (1883– 1964)

Robert George Ferguson.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A17042

Ferguson was born on September 12, 1883, near South Joliette, North Dakota. In 1906, after his father’s death, George moved his mother to a farm one mile south of Yorkton, Saskatchewan, and ran this farm each summer while in winter he obtained his BA and MD degrees in Winnipeg.

In 1917 Dr. Maurice Seymour hired Ferguson as the first medical doctor at the Fort Qu’Appelle Sanatorium. As secretary of the Saskatchewan Anti-tuberculosis Commission in 1921–22, Ferguson was able to gather statistically valuable information about the prevalence of tuberculosis, and to plan his lifetime campaign against the disease: under his gentle guidance, individuals, service clubs, municipalities, and the provincial government worked together to lead Canada in a costly but effective grassroots fight against what was at that time the number one health problem.

On January 1, 1929, Saskatchewan was by eight years the first jurisdiction in North America to provide free tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment. Ferguson completed two landmark scientific studies: the first BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin) prophylaxis in Aboriginal infants, and the first BCG prophylaxis in student nurses. He organized the first photofluorographic survey in North America. His 1955 book, Studies in Tuberculosis, remains a classic. He died in Regina on March 1, 1964. (See also Tuberculosis Control)

C. Stuart Houston