John Sinclair Crawford (Jack)

Class of: 

Born the older of two sons into a medical family and raised in the Sunnyside area of west Toronto.   His secondary school education was completed at Parkdale Collegiate Institute. He then entered U of T Medical School, completed this accelerated program and graduated in army uniform in May of 1944.

After an eight month rotating internship at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Toronto, he was appointed a Captain Medical Officer in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. On army discharge in 1946 Jack spent two years in general practice in the rural northern Ontario community of Desbarats.

In 1948 he entered postgraduate training in internal medicine at the University of Toronto.   In 1949 he was awarded the J.J McKenzie fellowship in Pathology for one year. He obtained his Royal College Fellowship in Internal Medicine in 1952.   During this period he became interested in rehab medicine and in 1953 Jack was awarded an R.S. McLaughlin training fellowship in rehab medicine. He trained at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London, England, then at the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, and finally at the Bellevue Hospital Rehabilitation Center in N.Y. Jack received his second fellowship in Physical Medicine and Rehab in 1954, the first person to receive this Royal Fellowship.

In 1954 Jack joined the medical staff at Toronto Western Hospital as Chief of the newly created Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and as a teacher at the University of Toronto medical school. Later, as Professor and Chairman of the Department, he was a pioneering leader in rehabilitation medicine in Toronto and across Canada. His leadership led to the creation of a major Rehabilitation Hospital (Hillcrest), and a major unit for Rehabilitation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the St. John’s Convalescent Hospital.

Jack married Margaret, a Registered Nurse, and they raised three sons.

Jack became aware of the tremendous gap in medical care that existed following hospital discharge and care at home. Through a grant he obtained from the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society, a physiotherapist was hired, and the Toronto Western Hospital provided a mobile van and the first Home Care Program was started in Ontario. The program was very successful and more staff were soon needed.   A rehab nurse and social worker were hired. The entire program was soon taken over and financed by the Ontario Hospital Service Commission and gradually expanded into the other Toronto hospitals, followed by Ontario hospitals and finally other province’s hospitals as well.  This program, started by Jack, is the basis and model for the present modern Home Care Program across Canada. Jack was its initiator and a true pioneer.

Another project with which he was involved was the request by the Board of Hillcrest Convalescent Hospital to suggest a plan for a future Rehab Hospital.  Plans were submitted and accepted, and the first modern Hillcrest Rehabilitation Hospital with one hundred hospital beds soon became a reality and success.  Jack soon established a close relationship between the Hillcrest Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital where all Toronto Western Rehab patients could be transferred for continuing care.

About the same period the first heart transplant in Canada was conducted in the Toronto Western Hospital by Professor Donald Wilson.  Jack suggested that perhaps his Department of Rehab Medicine could assist in the pre- and post-operative care of that patient, and prospective and future patients. This was accepted and became the beginning of pre- and post-operative rehab care in cardiac surgery and medically-treated coronary patients in Canada.

His hobbies were: skiing, horticulture and power boating. He is a past commodore of the Lake Simcoe Yacht Club. He retired from medicine in 1985 and he and his wife Margaret moved to Collingwood, Ontario. During his retirement years, he organized and developed the Collingwood Arboretum, a beautiful tree park in that Town.   For this project and his participation in the town’s organization he was awarded the Order of Collingwood and later the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.


Awards and Honours

Order of Collingwood

Queen's Jubilee Medal

Career Achievements

First Home Care Program in Ontario

Founder, Hillcrest Rehab Hospital

Chief, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Toronto Western Hospital


Excerpt written by: Dr. Jack Crawford and Dr. Henry Barnett 


Barnett, Henry, Joan Borland, Jack Laidlaw, Neil Watters and Bruce Wells. The Epic Journey of University of Toronto Medical Class of 1944. Toronto: University of Toronto, Faculty of Medince, 2012. pg. 29-30.

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