Provincial plaque commemorates Colonel Darby Bergin - Ontario Heritage Trust


Provincial plaque commemorates Colonel Darby Bergin

CORNWALL  – Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust, in partnership with the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders’ Regimental Foundation, unveiled a provincial plaque at the Cornwall Armoury commemorating Colonel Darby Bergin (1826-1896), a celebrated physician, politician and military officer.

The provincial plaque reads as follows:


Bergin was born in York (Toronto) and received his medical degree from McGill College in Montreal. He practised medicine in Cornwall, where he also assisted at a local typhus hospital. He later worked with the Mohawks of Akwesasne during a devastating smallpox outbreak. Bergin was elected Member of Parliament in 1872. He was a passionate and early advocate for rural affairs, public health and social justice. His innovative efforts and political appeals to improve workplace conditions and reduce the hours of work for women and children influenced future successful labour reform in Canada. A lifelong supporter of the militia, he was the first commanding officer of the 59th Stormont and Glengarry Battalion. In 1885, he became Canada’s first Surgeon General, laying the groundwork for the creation of a permanent medical corps. A promoter of local industry, he played an important role in the expansion of the Cornwall Canal and founded the Ontario Pacific Railway. After his death, Bergin was honoured with one of the largest public funerals ever held in Eastern Ontario.


“Among his many achievements, Colonel Darby Bergin made significant contributions to medicine in Ontario. He promoted health in many forms, caring for members of his community, advocating for the well-being of workers and leading the way to life-saving developments in military medical care. Over a century later, we continue to benefit from his work and are delighted to honour this outstanding Ontarian with a provincial plaque.” – Professor Thomas H.B. Symons, Chair, Ontario Heritage Trust

“Colonel Darby Bergin made a lasting impact in many fields – from medicine to the military, from industry to social justice. At the heart of these varied, wide-reaching contributions was his lifelong commitment to building a better province for the people of Ontario. Today, we are proud to celebrate this exceptional leader for his inspiring vision, unwavering dedication and accomplishments that touched countless lives.” – Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

“We are pleased to honour this amazing and unique Canadian at the Cornwall Armoury today. Colonel Darby Bergin, MD, MP, was the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders’ first Commanding Officer, Canada's first Surgeon General and the first President of the Cornwall and District Medical Association. He shaped the community of Cornwall and Canada’s medical and military history by contributing to the creation of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and the Ontario Pacific Railway’s Cornwall-to-Ottawa line. In honour of his extraordinary legacy, Bergin Lake and Bergin Avenue were named after him.” – William L. Masson, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), President, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders’ Regimental Foundation

Quick facts

  • The provincial plaque will be permanently installed at the Precious Blood Parish Cemetery, 18318 County Road 2, Cornwall (Glen Walter).
  • The Ontario Heritage Trust’s Provincial Plaque Program commemorates provincially significant people, places and events in Ontario’s history. Since 1956, over 1,275 provincial plaques have been unveiled.

Learn more


For more information about the Ontario Heritage Trust and the Provincial Plaque Program, contact Oksana Kravets at 416-325-5032 or

The Ontario Heritage Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario’s heritage.
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