War and medicine

November 8, 2018 | Author: Dr. Andrew Padmos

Dear colleagues,

War and medicine have a storied history.

As Dr. Jonathan Larmonth Meakins, OC, FRCSC, a member of our History and Heritage Advisory Committee, said, “Wartime is a crucible in which major advances are made.” These include advances in the treatment of infectious diseases, wound management and therapies, skin grafting techniques and more. It is not difficult to note how far we’ve come. Consider, for example, that physician and poet Dr. John McCrae died of pneumococcal pneumonia — something that is nowadays rarely fatal thanks to the discovery and industrialization of antibiotics.

Dr. Meakins recently led a research project to commemorate this year’s 100th anniversary of the end of World War One (1914-1918). He sought out information on the wartime service of the Royal College’s first four presidents, all of whom served during WWI with distinction.

In fact, Dr. Meakins’ own grandfather, Dr. Jonathan Campbell Meakins, was the Royal College’s inaugural President. He did some of the earliest research on post-traumatic stress disorder (at the time described as “soldier’s heart” or “shellshock”).

Beyond surgical and medical advances from war, postgraduate medical education in Canada made huge inroads post-WWI. This includes the incorporation of the Royal College in 1929 — but the formation of the Royal College was not without its setbacks.

Read the story online, along with short biographies of our first four Presidents:

Remembering our roots: WWI and the formation of the Royal College

Please let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in reading more stories about the Royal College’s past.

Andrew Padmos, BA, MD, FRCPC, FACP, FRCP
Royal College Chief Executive Officer


Photo: Dr. Jonathan Larmonth Meakins, OC, FRCSC, holds a photo of his grandfather, Dr. Jonathan Campbell Meakins, FRCPC, the Royal College’s first President (1929-1931)


Leave a comment. To reduce spam, comments are reviewed before they are visible on the post.

Your email address will not be published.


No.3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) | Units | Great War | CEFRG | January 8, 2022
[…] Larmonth Meakins, OC, FRCSC of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada later led a research project to commemorate the end of the Great War. His grandfather, Major John Campbell Meakins, the Royal […]
C. Bergquist | November 25, 2018
Yes, very interesting.
Dr Thomas Lesiuk | November 11, 2018
Yes. I would like to see more historical articles. It is important to record our history and regularly review it. Hopefully we can learn from the historical lessons and maybe sometimes not repeat our mistakes.
Vivian McAlister | November 9, 2018
Thank you Drs Padmos and Meakins for this thoughtful reminder. Serving medical officers who are fellows of the Royal College have sought to honour the memory of our predecessors who served in the First World War by releasing on Remembrance Day a Canadian Journal of Surgery supplement with research to aid future medical officers. The supplement is available here: http://canjsurg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/CAFsuppl2018.pdf
Dr. Farid M. Shamji | November 9, 2018
The topic is very important to remember the service provided by the Canadian Doctors during WW 1 and WW 2 There were many British and American Surgeons who served in the Army during the wars, some still alive and share their experiences
Charles Godfrey | November 9, 2018
While it is appropriate to celebrate the remarkable work of Canadian physicians in World War I including Allen Bruce Robertson blood transfusion it is realistic to remember the unacceptable medical history of the Christie Street Hospital over 30 years only to be terminated by a group of protesting women who paraded on Yonge Street carrying signs of A Bed for Heroes which resulted, eventually, in the building of Sunnybrook.
Euan Frew | November 9, 2018
Yes, I would like to read more on this topic. WWI is a very frightening example of human folly conditions were horrific. From a medical perspective I am particularly interested in how they coped with infection in their post operative management. There may be lessons to be learned as we face increasing problems with antibiotic resistance.