In 1857 the Rev. David Bennett Wishart, a minister from Blairburn, Perthshire, took over the ministry of St. Peter’s Church in Madoc, Ontario. That same year, he married Maria Torrence in Quebec City, and two sons were born of the marriage. The first, named Stephen, died in infancy within a year of his birth, while the second, David James Gibb, grew up to become an Emeritus Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Toronto. He was married twice, and of his seven children, five lived into adulthood. The oldest, a son named David Edmund Staunton, was born of the first marriage in Madoc on 22 August 1888. Tragically, two days later, young David’s mother died from septicaemia that could have been the result of a difficult birth.
Less than three years later David’s father remarried, and he subsequently became the brother to six half-siblings. He attended the Model School in Toronto and then the University of Toronto, where, like his father, David studied medicine. At Toronto, David was part of the University Officer Training Corps and at the time war broke out he was engaged in post-graduate studies in Britain and the United States.
On 2 February 1915 David enlisted in Toronto and joined as a private in the Canadian Army Medical Corps and sent to England with No.2 Casualty Clearing Station C.E.F. on 30 April; however, it wasn’t long before he was seconded at Shorncliffe to the Royal Army Medical Corps and given a commission on 25 May. After a spell at the RAMC Training Centre in Eastbourne, David was posted to Gallipoli with the 31st Field Ambulance, 10th Irish Division on 19 July and landed with them at Suvla Bay in August.
At the end of September 1915, the Division left Gallipoli for the Balkans where David served in Serbia and Macedonia until September 1917 when the 31st moved to Egypt and were involved in the Palestine campaign. Shortly after arrival, David was mentioned in despatches by General Allenby for ‘gallant conduct and distinguished service’. On 20 November he wrote to his father:
Our present camp is in the valley of Gerar, sacred with memories of Abraham and Isaac. I have distant views of Gaza and Beersheba. We are high up above a ‘wady’, but on grassy ground rapidly turning emerald green from the showers which have been on us for the past two days. A magnificently pleasant change from the dusty, dreary, bleak, waterless deserts which were our curse up to a few hours ago.
Between April and June 1918 many units in the 10th Division found themselves replaced by Indian units. The 31st were among those and handed all their stores and equipment over to the 166th Camel Field Ambulance on 20 May. David returned to England where rejoined the CAMC in June and sent to the 4th Canadian General Hospital in Basingstoke, where he was based for the remainder of the war. He was gazetted Captain on 25 June and remained in the UK until the end of March 1919 when he returned to Canada on board the S.S. Coronia.
David was demobilised in 1920, and two-years later joined the staff of both the Hospital for Sick Children which was affiliated with University of Toronto. In 1927 he married Estelle Gertrude Hodgins and had three children with her between 1928 and 1936. In 1934 he became the surgeon-in-chief of the hospital’s department of otolaryngology and was for some years, chairman of its medical advisory board.
Throughout his medical career, David’s interest focused on the problems of deafness, particularly in children, and with funding from the Atkinson Charitable Foundation he founded and directed a clinic in the hospital for the prevention of the condition. In 1955 he was elected president of the American Otological Society and actively wrote many articles for medical journals.
Outside of his career, David was a keen golfer and a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity. He sat on the governing board of St. Andrew’s college and was a manager of St. Andrew’s Church.
David died in Toronto on 8 April 1958 and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.