In late 18th- and early 19th- century Upper Canada, a variety of Acts were passed which attempted to restrict the practice of medicine and surgery to licensed individuals with formal training. Despite attempts to prevent the spread of “quackery”, unlicensed practice proved difficult to regulate.
Many individuals chose to self-treat or visit an unlicensed practitioner. Indeed, the vast numbers of patent medicine advertisements, directed at the average person, indicate the extent to which patients took their health into their own hands.
However, alongside this common trade in patent and popular medicines, professional medicine became increasingly institutionalized. Medical schools were opened beginning around the middle of the 19th century, new hospitals and asylums were constructed, and licensing regulations were increasingly enforced.