Sir William and Sir Andrew: The McGill Connection

Two distinguished Canadian doctors, both of whom graduated from and taught at McGill University, were knighted by the King in 1911 and 1918 respectively.  These were Sir William Osler, sometimes referred to as the “Father of Modern Medicine”, and Sir Andrew Macphail, an outstanding man of letters and author of the classic memoir The Master’s Wife.

One of the most famous physicians in the English-speaking world, Osler grew his reputation in Montreal from 1874-1884 as a professor at McGill.  Macphail was McGill’s first professor of the history of medicine, from 1907-1937.  Thus, their time spent at McGill did not overlap.  How well could they have known each other?

Pretty well, as it turns out. In an upcoming talk to be presented at the Macphail Homestead in Orwell, Dr James Moran will draw on a collection of correspondence between Macphail and Osler stretching between 1909 and 1919, examining the “McGill Connection” between two famous physicians who had more than just Montreal in common.

This is the annual Sir Andrew Macphail Memorial lecture, co-sponsored with the Prince Edward Island History of Medicine Society and held on Macphail’s birthday, Nov. 24. Start time is 7:00 p.m., preceded by a cash-bar reception at 6:30.  Admission is by free-will donation.

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Dr Moran is a historian of medicine and mental hea

lth at UPEI. He is currently finishing a book called Madness on Trial: A Transatlantic History of English Civil Law and Lunacy. Like Sir Andrew Macphail, he loves Montreal but prefers to live on Prince Edward Island.