Author: J. Brian Derbyshire

Publication Date: 2006

Edited: 2022



Dr. Frank Schofield was a faculty member at the Ontario Veterinary College from 1922, when the College moved from Toronto to Guelph, until his retirement in 1955. He was a distinguished teacher and scientist, and in his obituary of Dr. Schofield written in 1971, Dr. Larry Smith, his successor as head of the Pathology Department at the College, described him as, "One of the brightest lights in national and international veterinary medicine."1 Dr. Schofield spent a significant part of his career in Korea, initially as a medical missionary, and after his retirement as a distinguished guest. This aspect of Dr. Schofield's life was described by his Korean biographer, Professor Lee Jang Nag,2 however the present paper will focus mainly on Dr. Schofield's career at Guelph, with brief reviews of his earlier and later activities.



Francis William Schofield was born in 1889 in Rugby, England, the son of Francis Schofield and Minnie Hawksfood. His name was changed to Frank in 1895.3 He received his primary and secondary school education in England and emigrated to Canada in 1907. After working on a farm in Ontario for a brief period of time, he enrolled in the Ontario Veterinary College, graduating in 1910 at the top of his class of 80 students with the degree of Bachelor of Veterinary Science from the University of Toronto.4 In the second year of his studies, Schofield was afflicted with poliomyelitis, and was partially paralyzed for the remainder of his life.


Following graduation, Dr. Schofield worked in the bacteriology laboratory of the Ontario Health Centre, where he conducted research on the bacteriology of milk, for which he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Science by the University of Toronto in 1911.5 He was married in 1913, and in the following year he took a junior faculty position at the Ontario Veterinary College under Dr. John Amyot, who taught bacteriology at both the medical and veterinary schools in Toronto, and was an important mentor to Dr. Schofield.6


However, Dr. Schofield's career at the College at this time was brief, since in 1916 he went to Korea as a missionary for the Presbyterian Church of Canada to teach bacteriology and hygiene at Seoul University. He soon became involved in the Korean freedom movement, and in 1919 he was deported by the Japanese authorities.7 On his return to Canada, Schofield took a position as a bacteriologist at the Toronto General Hospital and rejoined the faculty of the Ontario Veterinary College in 1921, as Director of Veterinary Hygiene and Research.

 Historic Guelph V45P16Portrait of Dr. Frank Schofield painted by Hilton Hassel in 1953.  

(Photo courtesy: Special Collections, University of Guelph Library).



The Ontario Veterinary College moved from Toronto to Guelph in 1922.8 Dr. Schofield, one of only eleven faculty members, was responsible for teaching pathology and parasitology, but in 1929 a parasitologist, Dr. A. A. Kingscote, was appointed to the faculty. Dr. Kingscote took over the teaching of parasitology, but, when Dr. Ronald Gwatkin left the College to take up a position with the Ontario Research Foundation in 1928, Dr. Schofield began to teach bacteriology in addition to pathology. His teaching load was heavy, involving a total of two-hundred lectures and three-hundred hours of laboratory instruction spread over the third and fourth years of the veterinary teaching program in the 193 to 1936 session. (It was not until the end of World War II that additional staff became available on a regular basis to assist with the teaching of pathology and bacteriology.) At this time, Dr. Schofield also taught a course on the history of medicine in the first year of the program.9


Dr. Schofield's teaching philosophy was ahead of its time. When most instruction in veterinary medicine was very much by rote, he indicated in the College annual report in 1924 that, "In the instruction of the student, the methods followed are those which tend to stimulate the mind and cause the student to develop his natural resources."10 He elaborated on this theme in the following year:


"In the course of lectures in pathology, great care is taken to explain to the student the nature and meaning of changes that are seen in the animal body when it is the subject of disease. The student is taught to look for the operation of fundamental biological principles and learn to relate his observations to such, rather than memorize a mass of unrelated detail. Much ready-made knowledge has to be imparted, yet whenever possible the student is stimulated to think things out for himself."11


Dr. Larry Smith described Dr. Schofield as an outstanding lecturer and teacher who was able to stimulate the curiosity of his students, several of whom became leaders in veterinary pathology and bacteriology in Canada and elsewhere. His lectures included references to religion, ethics, history, and philosophy. He had neither time nor patience for the indolent student.12 Dr. Leon Saunders, who was a student at the College between 1939 and 1943, referred to Dr. Schofield's reputation for giving failing grades in his courses to students who indulged in the excessive consumption of alcohol.13 This practice would have been highly unethical, but another student and colleague of Schofield, Dr. Donald Barnum, suggested that the hard-drinking students were more likely to fail the courses due to inadequate study and preparation for their examinations.14 Dr. Barnum also described Dr. Schofield as an excellent speaker who used the language beautifully and would frequently discuss current affairs in his lectures.



Between 1908 and 1964, the Ontario Veterinary College was operated by the provincial Department of Agriculture, and research was not a high priority. The Principal, Dr. C. D. McGilvray, assigned a higher priority to teaching and diagnostic services to the livestock industry. In the 1928 College annual report, he wrote: "Much routine work is carried out by the College staff in addition to their regular class lectures, laboratories and other instructional work. Special research and investigational work is performed in so far as time, opportunity and facilities exist."15


In contrast, Dr. Schofield emphasized the importance of research: "A Department of Pathology, to remain viable, must continue research on problems related to the diseases described and discussed during lectures and laboratory work or seen at autopsy."16 These contrasting views led to animosity between Drs. Schofield and McGilvray, but Dr. Schofield enjoyed a more amicable relationship with Drs. Andrew McNabb and Trevor Jones, who succeeded Dr. McGilvray as Principal of the College, and who were more supportive of research. Much of Dr. Schofield's research was conducted in the pathology teaching laboratory and in an adjoining small preparation room, although when the College was extended in 1948, Dr. Schofield was provided with a small research laboratory next to his office.17


The lack of funding and poor facilities for research at the College made Dr. Schofield's scientific accomplishments even more remarkable. In 1962, Drs. D. A. Murphy and T. J. Hulland compiled a bibliography as a tribute, "To one of Canada's most famous veterinarians."18 This bibliography listed over one-hundred research papers, case reports, and notes published while Dr. Schofield was working in Guelph. The earlier papers appeared mainly in the annual reports of the College, but later work was published in refereed scientific journals with a wider circulation. Most of Dr. Schofield's investigations were of diseases in farm livestock, since he regarded pet animals as, "Useless chattels of the privileged."19 He is best known for his research on a bleeding disease of cattle that he showed to be associated with the feeding of mouldy sweet clover.20 He began this work in Toronto, before the College moved to Guelph, and not only did Dr. Schofield's findings provide a means of controlling the disease, but his discovery enabled others to isolate and synthesize dicoumarin, the active principle that impaired the coagulation of the blood, and to develop this as a drug for the treatment of human cardiovascular diseases and also for use as a rat poison.


Other notable achievements included the discovery of a new virus that caused a massive outbreak of enteritis in mink in the province in the 1940s, and the demonstration of the role of the bacterium Escherichia coli, which recently received attention during the outbreak of water-borne disease in Walkerton, Ontario, as the cause of disease in young animals and in edema disease of swine.21 He also worked on malignant catarrh in cattle, piglet anemia, joint-ill in foals and equine encephalomyelitis, and he described the first case of scrapie, a disease related to mad cow disease, in sheep in Canada.22


Historic Guelph V45P18The Ontario Veterinary College in the late 1930s. The pathology teaching laboratory and the adjoining preparation room, where Dr. Schofield conducted much of his research, were located on the third floor. 

(Photo Courtesy: Special Collections, University of Guelph Library).


Dr. Larry Smith speculated on whether Dr. Schofield would have accomplished even more scientifically if he had been working in a more favourable environment, with the benefit of research grants, graduate students, and technical assistance, but he concluded that:


"He was stimulated by austerity and fired by adversity. It is therefore possible that such a spirit as Dr. Schofield's thrives best in a less-friendly environment, one of controversy and adversity. The more affluent and more congenial atmosphere of today's research laboratories may have cloyed this spirit and caused him to lose interest. Indeed, it is likely that he would throw the even tenor of such a laboratory into utter chaos."23


Dr. Schofield's scientific accomplishments were recognized both nationally and internationally. He was a founding member of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, and an active participant in the Annual Meetings of the College until his retirement. In March 1970, shortly before his death, he was presented with a scroll honoring him as a Distinguished Member of the College. In 1954, he was awarded the Twelfth International Veterinary Congress Prize, and the St. Eloi Medal by the College of Veterinary Surgeons of Quebec. Dr. Schofield also received honorary degrees from the Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich in 1950, and from the University of Toronto in 1962.24


Historic Guelph V45P20

The faculty of the Ontario Veterinary College in 1940. Dr Schofield is seated on the left, and the Principal, Dr C. D. McGiloray, is in the centre.

(Photograph Courtesy: Special Collections, University of Guelph Library).



Although Dr. Schofield's career was distinguished, his life was punctuated by a number of personal tragedies. His mother, who died when Frank was born, was replaced by a cold step-mother when he was three years old, and his father was extremely strict.25 However, in later life he always spoke kindly of his father, who, like his son, was a deeply religious man.26


The poliomyelitis, which he suffered as a student in 1909, left him partially paralyzed, and he always walked with a cane. In spite of this infirmity, he was able to play tennis in later life, and he drove a specially-adapted automobile with a degree of verve that on occasion would terrify his passengers.27 Dr. Schofield's wife, Alice, suffered severe mental problems shortly after the birth of their son Frank in 1917. She was institutionalized until her death in 1957, leaving Dr. Schofield to bring up his son as a single parent.28 Dr. Schofield himself encountered periods of depression, particularly in 1941, when, following the death of his father as well as Dr. Amyot, his mentor, in 1940, and during the darkest days of World War II, he was ill for a while and received treatment at the Homewood Sanitarium (now known as the Homewood Health Centre).29


Dr. Schofield was greatly influenced in his life by two individuals, his father and Dr. John Amyot. He spoke of his father as follows: "My father was a Christ-like person who loved scholarly work. His first and foremost purpose in life was to help the poor, to comfort the sick and the sorrowful, and lead them all to God and please Him."30


In his obituary of John Amyot, his teacher and mentor in his early days at the Ontario Veterinary College, Dr. Schofield wrote:


"He had a genius for imparting knowledge, his lectures being masterpieces of lucidity and style. Nothing was commonplace, nothing was dry or abstruse; even the most uninteresting facts of science under his touch became full of interest and meaning. But it was not only as a lecturer that he excelled; his life was permeated and coloured by his deep religious faith. He was devoted to his church."31


Like his father and his mentor, Dr. Schofield was a deeply religious man who was active in the religious life of the community in Guelph. He sometimes attended Chalmers United Church, but preferred the more working-class atmosphere of Paisley Memorial United Church, where he held Bible classes after World War II, assisted by Dr. Barnum.32 Dr. Schofield was not reluctant to criticize a minister if his sermon failed to meet his standards, although Dr. Schofield was prepared to give ground if the minister could muster an effective counter-attack.33 Dr. Schofield was also active on campus in the Guelph chapter of the Student Christian Movement, participating in Bible classes which were regularly held on Sunday afternoons.34


Historic Guelph V45P21

Paisley Memorial United Church, which Dr Schofield attended in Guelph.   (Photographed by author, December 2005).


Like his father and his mentor, Dr. Schofield always had a special regard for the underprivileged, whether in Canada, Europe, or Korea. While working in Guelph, he supported new Canadians, particularly immigrants displaced from Europe in the post-war period, by helping them to find work at the College or in the community, and he secured the appointment of a Black woman as a secretary in the mastitis laboratory at the College, thereby breaking the colour barrier on the campus.35 At the same time, he was active in the support of veterinary students enduring grim conditions in post-war Germany by organizing large scale donations of warm clothing from the people of Ontario, and the shipment of these through Halifax to Europe. This humanitarian aid was recognized in the citation which accompanied the award of his honourary degree from the Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich.36 Dr. Schofield lived a rather spartan life in Guelph in a small, rented cottage on College Avenue, where he cooked his own food and washed his own clothes.37 Surplus funds remaining from his modest salary were donated to the Church, needy individuals, or other worthy causes.38


Historic Guelph V45P22Presentation of a retirement gift to Dr. Schofield by the Hon. F. S. Thomas, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, June 1955.


The converse of Dr. Schofield's support of the underprivileged was his attitude to those he regarded as privileged. According to Dr. Larry Smith, he detested affluence; he expected the best of both colleagues and students, and he was impatient with those who appeared to him to be less able, industrious, or intelligent, and a show of pretense would bring down biting criticism.39 Dr. Saunders described how Dr. Schofield would lash out at the British students who sneered at their Canadian colleagues, and when attending meetings in the United States he would snipe at his American colleagues for their materialism, their educational system, their abuse of the English language, and their assumption that other countries would wish to adopt the American way of life.40


Historic Guelph V45P23Dr Schofield's cottage on College Avenue. The fieldstone facing is a recent addition. (Photographed by author, December 2005).



Dr. Schofield retired from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1955 and was honoured at a banquet attended by approximately three-hundred people, where he was presented with a gift by the Ontario Minister of Agriculture. In his address at the banquet, Dr. Schofield referred to his stay at the College as a steppingstone to enable him to return to Korea to continue his work among the needy that he had begun decades earlier.41 Dr. Schofield returned to Korea in 1958, following the death of his wife in the previous year. He was appointed Professor of Pathology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Seoul National University, and he also taught at Yonsei Medical School and the College of Pharmacy of Chung Ang University. He continued to live frugally, to give Bible classes to high school and college students, and to support and visit orphanages.42 He was awarded the Korean Culture Medal in 1961; the Order of Merit from the Korean government in 1968, and he received honourary degrees from Kyongbuk National University, Korea University, and Seoul National University.43


Dr. Schofield died in Seoul in 1970. He was eulogized in the Korean press and buried in a section of the National Cemetery reserved for Korean patriots, the only foreign national to be so honoured. He was survived by his son and daughter-in-law, two grandsons and one granddaughter, and by numerous Koreans whom he adopted as members of his Korean family.44 He is commemorated in Canada by the annual Schofield lectureship at the University of Guelph, and in Korea by a scholarship in his name at Seoul National University.



Dr. Donald Barnum, who graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1941, and was a student and later a colleague of Dr. Schofield, kindly agreed to be interviewed, and provided valuable information for this paper.



  1. D. L. Smith, "Francis William Schofield: 1889-1970," Veterinary Pathology 8, No. 3 (May 1971): p. 282-288.
  2. See Lee Jang Nag, I Shall Be Buried In Korea: A Biography of Frank William Schofield. (Seoul, South Korea: Lee Jang Nag, 1989). Translated into English by Choi Jin Young.
  3. lbid.
  4. Smith, "Francis William Schofield: 1889-1970," p. 282-288.
  5. Lee Jang Nag, I Shall Be Buried In Korea, 1989.
  6. Smith, "Francis William Schofield: 1889-1970," p. 282-288.
  7. Leon Z. Saunders, "Frank Schofield (1889-1970) and Anticoagulant Therapy," Medical Heritage, 2 (1986): p. 310-312.
  8. J. B. Derbyshire, "Pathology at the Ontario Veterinary College: The First 100 Years," Canadian Veterinary Journal 40, No. 10 (1999): p. 137-143.
  9. Annual Report of the Ontario Veterinary College, (Guelph, Ontario: Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, 1954).
  10. Annual Report of the Ontario Veterinary College, (Guelph, Ontario: Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, 1924).
  11. Annual Report of the Ontario Veterinary College, (Guelph, Ontario: Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, 1925).
  12. Smith, "Francis William Schofield: 1889-1970," p. 282-288.
  13. L. Z. Saunders, "Schofield Centennial: Reminiscences of one of Dr. Schofield's Students," Canadian Veterinary Journal 31, No. 4 (1990): p. 310-313.
  14. D. A. Barnum interview by author, Guelph, Ontario. (December 19, 2005).
  15. J. B. Derbyshire, "Pathology at the Ontario Veterinary College: The First 100 Years," p. 137-143.
  16. Annual Report of the Ontario Veterinary College, 1954.
  17. D. A. Barnum interview by author. (December 19, 2005).
  18. D. A. Murphy and T. J. Hulland, "Frank Schofield - Bibliography," Canadian Journal of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Science
    26 (1962): p. 1-11.
  19. Smith, "Francis William Schofield: 1889-1970," p. 282-288.
  20. Leon Z. Saunders, "Frank Schofield (1889-1970) and Anticoagulant Therapy," p. 310-312.
  21. Smith, "Francis William Schofield: 1889-1970," p. 282-288.
  22. J. B. Derbyshire, "Pathology at the Ontario Veterinary College: The First 100 Years," p. 137-143.
  23. Smith, "Francis William Schofield: 1889-1970," p. 282-288.
  24. Ibid, 282-288.
  25. Lee Jang Nag, I Shall Be Buried In Korea.
  26. D. A. Barnum interview by author.
  27. L. Z. Saunders, "Schofield Centennial: Reminiscences of One of Dr. Schofield's Students," p. 310-313.
  28. Lee Jang Nag, I Shall Be Buried In Korea.
  29. D. A. Barnum interview by author.
  30. Lee Jang Nag, I Shall Be Buried In Korea.
  31. Veterinary Digest, Vol. 3 (Guelph, Ontario: Ontario Veterinary College, 1941), p. 82-83.
  32. D. A. Barnum interview by author.
  33. Smith, "Francis William Schofield: 1889-1970," p. 282-288.
  34. Veterinary Digest, Vol. 1 (Guelph, Ontario: Ontario Veterinary College, 1939), p. 28.
  35. D. A. Barnum interview by author.
  36. Leon Z. Saunders, "Frank Schofield (1889-1970) and Anticoagulant Therapy," p. 310-312.
  37. D. A. Barnum interview by author.
  38. Smith, "Francis William Schofield: 1889-1970," p. 282-288.
  39. Ibid, p. 282-288.
  40. L. Z. Saunders, "Schofield Centennial: Reminiscences of One of Dr. Schofield's Students," p. 310-313.
  41. Ontario Veterinary College Bulletin, Vol. 5 (Guelph, Ontario: Ontario Veterinary College, 1955), p. 1-9.
  42. Lee Lang Nag, I Shall Be Buried In Korea.
  43. Smith, "Francis William Schofield: 1889-1970," p. 282-288.
  44. Lee Lang Nag, I Shall Be Buried In Korea.