Charles T. Peterson (1913-2007)

[This post originally appeared on my MobileMe site, April 3, 2011.  It has been updated with some new information.]

Dr. Charles T. Peterson: “Ahead of His Time”

My cousin Susan McClocklin’s partner, Jim McClocklin, gave my father’s eulogy in April 2007.  Jim described my father as “ahead of his time–particularly concerning health food, fluoridation [he was anti-fluoride], the environment, and dentistry.”

Bruce Mines Beginnings; Hard Rock Miner

Charles Peterson (right) hugs brother Harold, ca. 1913

This photo of my father was taken around 1913 at the family home in Bruce Mines, Ontario.  Charles (right) is hugging his brother Harold.  My father never let me forget he worked seven and a half years underground as a hard rock miner in Timmins and Elliot Lake, Ontario during the Depression.  It was his hard rock mining pay that helped finance his way through the University of Toronto Dental School.


After he finished dental school, Charles took further training, and became a periodontist (gum specialist).

Charles and Leith Peterson, Duncan, 1995

He served in the Canadian Army Dental Corps during World War Two, spending part of that time in Germany.  Around 1949, he started his periodontal practice in London, Ontario.  He had many articles published regarding his views on periodontia.  His fonds resides at the Archives of Ontario.

Around 1977, he retired and moved to Duncan, B.C., where he remained until he moved back East in 1997.  This photo of my father and me was taken when I visited him at Christmas in Duncan, 1995.  Dad is wearing a genuine Cowichan sweater.  The sweaters are crafted by aboriginals from the Duncan area.

“Tree Man”

“Living memorials” to Jay and Charles Peterson

Charles was known as the “tree man” to many people because of his love for planting trees.  The Peterson family lived at 283 Dufferin Avenue in London, Ontario from about 1950 to 1974.  My father’s periodontist office was next door at 281 Dufferin.  In 1970, my father organized a rally against the trees being cut down in front of the family home, which was across from the city hall.  There was considerable media attention.  In the end, the trees were cut down because they were deemed to be too old.  The family home and my father’s office were torn down around 1977, and in their place is the Metropolitan United Church parking lot.  Around the same time, two linden trees were planted in a semicircle of grass in front of the parking lot.  Leith Peterson took a photo of these trees on August 26, 2007 (above right).  A family friend considers these trees to be “living memorials” to Jay and Charles Peterson, and gives a boy scout salute whenever he goes by.

Peterson Family Tree

Peterson family tree documents, ca. 1970s

Throughout his life, Charles Peterson always stressed the importance of knowing who you are and where you come from.  In the 1970s, he produced two documents regarding the family tree: a booklet and a chart.  The chart traces the family history from 1756 to 1973.

“You Can’t Stop Me Now”

Charles Peterson sitting on grave of great-grandfather, 1993

Eighty-year old Charles smokes a cigar, while he sits on the grave of his great-grandfather, Charles Lewis Peterson (1795-1876).  He did this because his great-grandfather disapproved of smoking.  Photo taken by Leith Peterson at the Primitive Methodist Cemetery, Hawkesville, Ontario, 1993.