Born in Portsoy, Scotland, he received his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1908. During World War I, he was with the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in Flanders. In 1916 he wrote the book, With a Field Ambulance at Ypres.
After the war, he became a Professor of Pathology in the Manitoba Medical College at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Over the next 22 years, he wrote medical pathology textbooks that were very well received. In 1937, he moved to the University of Toronto and in 1951 was at the University of British Columbia.
In 1968, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour, "for his services as a pathologist and as a founding member of the National Cancer Institute".