Arthur Hutton McShine (2nd Dec 1876-4th Aug 1948)
Trinidad and Tobago Icons Vol 2
The Honourable Dr Arthur Hutton McShine was Trinidad and Tobago’s first qualified specialist eye surgeon and consultant. A “Renaissance Man”1, Dr McShine was also passionately involved in politics, economics and education. This humanitarian served his country, especially the nation’s poor, for over 40 years.
Arthur Hutton McShine was born on 2nd December, 1876 east of the Dry River in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. He was educated at Eastern Boys’ Government School and obtained a college exhibition to Queen’s Royal College in 1888. In 1896, he won an Island Scholarship and elected to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. His nights of studying under the street lamp near his home had paid off!
Within five years, McShine became a prize winning student under the tutelage of the famous Professor Wylie, and attained his primary qualifications in medicine and surgery. He immediately returned to Trinidad where he worked at the General Hospital in Port-of-Spain. He left again in 1902 to pursue postgraduate studies at the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. In 1903, he completed his thesis on glaucoma at the University of Edinburgh, which qualified him as a Doctor of Medicine (MD), making him the country’s first trained specialist in ophthalmology.
He established his own clinic on Frederick Street, and performed free surgery twice a week at the General Hospital. In 1925, he was appointed the first Honorary Ophthalmic Surgeon at the hospital. He also helped to form the Trinidad Association for the Prevention and Treatment of Tuberculosis2 aimed at improving living conditions in Port-of-Spain to reduce transmission of the infection. He was a member of the Council of the Medical Board for 20 years and served as Vice President and President. Up to a short time before his death, he was the Trinidad Representative on the Editorial Panel of the West Indian Medical Journal.
Dr McShine served at the newly-founded Trinidad Co-operative Bank for 32 years, 28 of which he was President of the Board. During these years, the Bank became known as the “Poor Man’s Friend”, allowing persons with low incomes to participate in its goals of “Thrift and Co-operation”. The Bank pioneered low-cost housing in Trinidad and, in his honour, one of its housing settlements in Belmont was named McShine Terrace.
He was a founding member of the Board of Industrial Training which was established in 1931. As Chairman of the Board, he led the establishment, in 1943, of the first full-time technical school, located in San Fernando. Many of the school’s graduates entered the petroleum and sugar industries.
Dr McShine had, however, decided early on that he could best help his country through entry into politics. In 1914, when the City Council of Port-of-Spain was re-established, he was among its first elected members. He was a member of the Council for 14 years, and was elected Mayor from 1921 to 1922 and Deputy Mayor on three occasions between 1920 and 1926. Due to his efforts, a piped water system was installed on Laventille Hill. The McShine Reservoir still services the area today. He also served as an unofficial member of the Legislative Council from 1921 to 1943 and an appointed member of the Executive Council from 1937 to 1943.
Upon retirement, His Majesty, George VI declared that Dr McShine would retain the title “The Honourable”. He also received the Order of the British Empire and later the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Dr Arthur McShine died on 4th August, 1948.