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Daniel David Palmer
founder of chiropractic.

If Daniel David Palmer were still alive, a big smile would probably have beamed right through his full grey beard on learning that he was to be memorialized by the Government of Canada in recognition of his discovery of chiropractic.

Port Perry’s Palmer Park, which already bears his name, was the setting on September 19 as approximately 100 people watched the unveiling of a large bronze plaque to commemorate his role in medical history.

Attending the function were a number of dignitaries from the government of Canada, The Honourable Bev Oda, Mayor Marilyn Pearce, Dr. Robert Haig of the Ontario Chiropractic Association and other interested parties.

It appears D.D. Palmer is looking over some of the dignitaries and the attractive plaque: from left, Dr. Colin Carrie, MP Oshawa, Mayor Marilyn Pearce, Dr. James P. Laws, Robert D. Haig, executive director Ontario Chiropractic Assoc., The Honourable Bev Oda and Dr. Silvano Moir.

Following a brief ceremony the plaque, with (in part) the following inscription was unveiled.... “Raised in Port Perry, D.D. Palmer was self educated, well read and keenly interested in spiritualism and alternative medicine. While working as a magnetic healer in the United States, his clinical observations and analysis led him to conclude the proper spinal alignment could restore ‘nerve flow’ and ensure good general health... Palmer is recognized as the founder of chiropractic for his crucial role in creating and popularizing this alternative medical care in North America.

Brief History - Although Daniel David Palmer did not live out his life in Port Perry he received his early education in Port Perry. By the time he was 11 years-old he had received the equivalent of an eight-grade education.

Ceremony under a tent in Palmer Park, Port Perry

His education was cut short when their father’s grocery business in Port Perry failed and his parents moved to the United States in 1856.

Daniel and his brother Thomas, were left to work in a local match factory until April 1865 when they left Port Perry and travelled to the United States to rejoin their family.

On January 20, 1871, Daniel David married Abba Lord, and the couple lived in the New Boston area for a short time. It is believed his first wife died during childbirth. This was the first of four marriages for Mr. Palmer.

By 1887 Palmer and his family had moved to Davenport, Iowa where he was listed as a “Vital Healer”, claiming cures for fever, rheumatism and indigestion.

The great discovery of chiropractic came on September 18, 1895 when, using his hands, he readjusted the spine of a deaf patient, Harvey Lillard, who regained his hearing.

Reluctant to share his theories, he kept silent for a few years, but after a near fatal accident, he decided to teach the technique as fast as he could. In 1903 he founded the Palmer School of Chiropractic, but after many difficulties with authorities over his methods, he was jailed for practicing without a certificate.

After being freed from prison, and the failure of his original school, he moved to Los Angeles, where he spent his last years as a prolific writer and lecturer. Ironically, it was after being invited to speak at his son’s school, he was struck down by a car driven by his son B.J. Palmer, and he died of his injuries, on October 20, 1913.

Twenty-five years after his death, in July 1938, chiropractors from across Canada and the U.S.A. assembled in Port Perry to dedicate Palmer Memorial Park in the memory of the founder of chiropractic.

In August 1946 the National Chiropractic Association unveiled a monument featuring a bronze bust of Daniel David Palmer.

By J. Peter Hvidsten
Focus on Scugog







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