Carrying Forceps to Sermons—Dr. Mackay’s Journey in Medicine
Long before the period of Japanese rule, one after another many foreigners from different countries set foot on Taiwan. Their purposes might have been for trade, or for invasion. Of these, a great number were Christian missionaries who contributed greatly to modern-day Taiwan’s medicine and education.
Born in Canada, Dr. Mackay first arrived in Taiwan in 1872. At first, he received financial support from a Detroit woman. In memorial of her husband, Captain Mackay, she donated three thousand U.S. dollars to Reverend (Dr.) Mackay. Subsequently, Reverend Mackay built the Mackay Hospital (now the Mackay Memorial Hospital) in 1880. In the same year, Dr. Mackay returned to Canada to raise funds in order to establish Taiwan’s first western style school in Hoba (today’s Tamsui), which he named Oxford College. In 1884, Tamsui Girls’ School was established on the east side of Oxford College, which was the first school specifically for female students.
Every time Dr. Mackay went on a missionary tour, he would hand out quinine to cure malaria and pull teeth for people seeking relief from toothaches. They would first find an open space and sing two to three gospel songs. Then Dr. Mackay and his students would start pulling teeth, returning the extracted teeth to their patients. Proselytizing would start only after all medical treatment was completed. According to personal accounts from Dr. Mackay’s diary, it appears that he pulled more than twenty-one thousand teeth in Taiwan and seldom used long needles or hooks. Most of the dental extraction tools Dr. Mackay used were hardwood whittled into suitable shapes. It was only later on that he ordered custom-made tools of metal.
In the thirty-odd years since Dr. Mackay arrived in Taiwan, his footprints came to be found throughout northern Taiwan as well as places like Yilan, Hualien, etc. He had deep connections with Taiwan; other than having a Taiwanese wife, his daughters all married into Taiwanese families. Furthermore, both Dr. Mackay and his son were laid to rest in Taiwan. Today, inside Tamsui Middle School (now Tamkang Senior High School) in New Taipei City, one can visit the Mackay Cemetery, which has been preserved as an historical site.
 On the left, the man wearing a white hat with a black beard is Dr. Mackay. He and his students, Yan Qinghua and Ke Weisi, are performing tooth extractions for the people.
 (Image source: Dr. George Mackay and Oxford College)
George Leslie Mackay, From Far Formosa: The Island, Its People and Missions, Translated by Lin Wansheng (2007). Taipei: Avanguard.