John Glennings Curtis ADAMS 

*16 Mar 1839 - †21 May 1922


a) DR. JOHN G. ADAMS was born at Acton,
Ont., March 16, 1839. When about five years
of age, at his own request, his name was enrolled
on the temperance pledge and he became
a lifelong teetotaler. What makes his first voluntary
act of his life more significant is the fact
that his two playmates of that time died drunkards
in early life, while he is spared to useful
old age. During the year of 1847, When his
father, Rev. Ezra Adams, was stationed at Bradford,
the cholera and immigrant fever raged
throughout Canada. On every side of them
their neighbors were being carried away to the
graveyard; those who escaped the fever were
shaking with ague. There were very few persons
well enough to care for the sick. The
cabinetmakers worked day and night making
coffins for those who were dying. Young John
also was laid low with the fever, and so near
death's door that the doctor directed his mother
to make his grave clothes, as the disease was so
malignant it would be necessary that he be
buried immediately after death. His mother
and his sisters obeyed the doctor's order, but at
the same time his mother was pleading as only
a mother could plead for the life of her boy.
Soon after the doctor returned and in a disappointed
tone of voice exclaimed, "What, is he
not dead yet?" His mother replied, "No, and
he is not going to die, either." She was a woman
who knew how by faith to take hold of
God in prayer and had received the assurance
that her prayer was granted. About this time his
fattier superannuated from the active ministry
and moved to the township of Peel, near
what is now the town of Drayton, a part of the
country then known as the "Queen's bush."
There he bought 200 acres of land, for himself
and his nine-year-old boy, hiring men to clear
up the land and build a large house and barn;
every board of these buildings was sawn by
hand, as there were no sawmills in that part of
the country. For many years their home was
known as the "Methodist Inn," and was always
full of visitors, persons who were moving into
the new country beyond. Strangers as well as
acquaintances were always freely welcome to
their home, the doors of which were never locked
night or day. Uncle Ezra and Aunt Amy
were household names far and near. If any
person was to be baptized, married or buried,
Uncle Ezra was invited to perform the ceremony.
It was in this his comfortable boyhood home
that one fierce winter evening his mother's
tears of sympathy for the poor, whom she knew
would be shivering with the cold in the cities,
under God inspired her eleven-year-old boy for
his great life work in the interest of suffering
On Dec. 18, 1862, he married Miss Sara Ann
Fawcett, third daughter of Mr. John and Lavina
Fawcett. Mrs. Adams was born near London,
Ont, Jan. 18, 1845. Like her husband,
she believed in early childhood that God had
called her to philanthropic work for the poor.
In the year 1870, believing that God had indicated
Toronto as their mission field and dental
hospital care for the poor as their work, they
parted with their beautiful farm and moved to
the city, where he began the study of dentistry
and graduated from the Royal College of Dental
THE WORLD.emdash He then began his life work by
founding Christ's Dental Hospital, the first free
dental hospital in the world for the care of the
teeth of poor children, and which he equipped
and supported entirely at his own expense for
over a quarter of a century.
CHILDREN'S TEETH.emdash In order to save the children's
permanent teeth instead of having to extract
them because of their being neglected and
too far decayed to be saved, he began the systematic
examination of the teeth of the children
in the schools of the various charitable institu
tions. Those children requiring care were then
sent to the dental hospital, where he and his assistants
filled their teeth and kept them in firstclass
order, so that the children could eat, sleep,
study, play and grow up strong, healthy, useful
citizens. Thus Dr. Adams placed Toronto
on the honor roll not only as being the first city
that had a dental hospital, but also as the first
city that had schools where the teeth of every
child were systematically examined twice a year
and kept in first-class order. Among the schools
the teeth of whose children Dr. Adams examined
and cared for were the Boys' Home, Girls'
Home, Orphans' Home, Newsboys' Home,
Girls' Industrial School, Boys' Industrial
School, and the Elizabeth Street School, commonly
called the "ragged school." The contrast
between the condition of the teeth of the
children in these schools after they had been put
in good condition and those of the children in
the well-to-do schools of the city was great indeed.
In 1891 Dr. Adams began sounding the alarm
by calling the attention of the medical health
officer and the public school board to the wretched,
disgraceful and neglected condition in which
the teeth and mouths of the great majority of
the school children of the city were to be found,
and of the absolute necessity of systematic inspection
of school children's teeth, which reform
the board afterwards endorsed.
did not confine his interest to the children of
Toronto, but began investigating the condition
of school children's teeth from all parts of the
world, and then in the interest of parents and
children he published a book entitled "School
Children's Teeth, Their Universally Unhealthy
and Neglected Condition," giving the results of
his investigations, which showed that an alarming
change had taken place in the quality of
children's teeth, both permanent and temporary,
all over the world, a condition such as was never
known before in the history of man. Ninetyfive
per cent, of all school children were shown
to have permanent teeth more or less decayed
and going to destruction by wholesale soon after
eruption, the same as was found in the Toronto
Adams pointed out that this change, coming as
it does at the most critical time, the growing
period of childhood, saps the vital foundation of
the race, for every succeeding generation must
necessarily become weaker. The child of today
is the parent of to-morrow. Hence the absolute
necessity for prompt action all along the
lines, in fighting this fast-increasing plague. As
parents are not aware of this change, or that
their children's permanent teeth are going to
decay, the only remedy is the systematic examination
of the teeth of all school children and
the providing of dental hospitals to care for the
On Oct. 28, 1897, Mrs. Adams, after spending
her last Sabbath visiting among some of the
poor in the east end of the city, passed away
to her reward. The following children survive
her: Amy L., wife of Rev. D. A. Moir, St. Catharines;
Dr. J. Frank Adams, Toronto; Dr. E.
Herbert Adams, Toronto; Miss Eleanor J., Toronto:
Matilda M., wife of Dr. George S. Martin,
of Buffalo; Electa, wife of Mr. Arthur M.
Matthews, Toronto; Dr. William F. Adams,
medical missionary to China; Miss Louise A.,
Toronto; and Dr. G. Arthur Adams, of Toronto
Brought up in the Methodist Church of Canada,
Dr. Adams has held many official positions
and is at present steward and trustee of the St.
Paul's Methodist Church, Toronto; but while
active in church work, religion with him has
been for practical daily life and not for momentous
events or special occasions merely. The
extent of his labors and benefactions to the poor
of Toronto will never be fully known or appreciated,
without waiting for heroic occasions or
public events that would secure him the praise
of the people and press, and which after all
are easier and therefore less heroic than the
commonplace trials which daily test the stuff of
which a man is made. Yet equally worthy are
the quiet heroism and patience of a man who in
addition to the proper care of a large family
and busy and successful professional life, and
without ostentation or parade or encouragement,
or asking a dollar from anyone, has equipped
and maintained a dental hospital for the
poor of a large city like Toronto for considerably
over a quarter of a century. "While many
years in advance of his times, he has lived to see
the results of his educative methods and example
on this great American evil bearing fruit
not only on this continent, but in many nations
of Europe and to some extent on other continents
as well.
«b»Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of York,
Ontario - 1907
«/b»Archive CD Books Canada Inc.
P O Box 11
Ontario, K4M 1A2