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Dr. John Clarence Webster was born in Shediac in 1863. He graduated from Mount Allison University in 1882 and went on to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh. After receiving the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1890, he remained with the University in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Webster was forced by ill health to return to Canada in 1896 and he accepted the positions of Lecturer in Gynecology at McGill University and Assistant Gynecologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital. In 1899 Dr. Webster was invited to become Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Rush Medical College, which was affiliated with the University of Chicago. He remained in Chicago for twenty years in teaching, practice and research until ill health induced him to return to Canada.
Dr. Webster had married Alice Lusk of New York in 1899 and, during their years in Chicago, they began to collect Oriental art. Many items from their collection were later donated to the New Brunswick Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum. Files relating to their Oriental collection have been placed in the series of personal papers.
IV. On leaving Chicago, Dr. Webster decided to settle in Shediac. He became interested in Canadian history and began to assemble a collection of Canadiana.
Dr. Webster was appointed to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1923 and became chairman in 1943. In addition to the marking of historic sites, he became interested in the development of historic parks and museums. It was largely through his initiative that museums were erected at Beaus‚jour and Louisbourg.
VI. Dr. Webster was actively interested in the establishment of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia and was appointed a Trustee in 1929. Other appointments were as a member of the Royal Commission on Railways and Transportation (1931), Chairman of the Carnegie Corporation's Canadian Museum Committee (1933) and a Governor of Dalhousie University (1934).
In 1929 Dr. Webster became a founder of the New Brunswick Museum and served as a member of the Board and Honorary Curator of Canadian History until his death in 1950. In addition to his collection of pictorial Canadiana, Dr. Webster donated his Canadiana library and his collection of manuscripts to the Museum in 1941. Dr. Webster's personal files and the majority of his correspondence were given to the Museum by his son, William Webster in 1954. Working files, consisting of articles, clippings and some correspondence, were transferred from the History Department to the archives in 1975. Correspondence and invoices relating only to the acquisition of items in the Webster Canadiana Pictorial Collection were retained in the Museum's artifact files. Photographs were transferred from the archives to the Webster Photograph Collection in the custody of the Humanities Division.