Toronto General Hospital. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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Toronto General Hospital. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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The Departments of Obstetrics and Gynaecology were two separate services until 1912 when the University of Toronto decided to combine the departments. The beginnings of an obstetrical service at the Toronto General Hospital (TGH) are rooted in the 1877 arrangements made for the amalgamation of the Burnside Hospital with the Toronto General Hospital. The TGH erected a building with 40 beds to be called “Burnside Lying-In Hospital” on the North West part of the hospital grounds. The Burnside Hospital was opened in October 1878 and was serviced by the TGH medical staff. At that time, the two surgeons from the Burnside, Drs. Frederick Le Maitre Grasett and James Algernon Temple were given lifetime membership on the TGH staff. Between 1878 and 1891 there were 2096 births at the Burnside. By 1896-97 this building was also called the Lying-in Department or Burnside Branch of the General Hospital. By 1923 this department was variously referred to as the Burnside Department or the Burnside Obstetrical Department.

Starting in 1906 students were first admitted the birthing rooms of the Burnside Hospital, thus contributing to the teaching role of the general hospital. In 1908 an out-patient maternity service was developed by Dr. K.C. McIlwraith which cooperated with the Victorian Order of Nurses.
A Post-Natal Clinic was inaugurated in 1923. A Pre-Natal Clinic had already been established for several years at that point. The obstetrical services were moved to new facilities in the Central Building (later Norman Urquhart) in the 1960s.

By 1985/86 the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology came to include the Division of Maternal and Fetal Medicine (also known as the Maternal and Fetal Medicine Division) which was formalized in November 1983 and included a Prenatal Genetics Programme and the Maternal High Risk Unit. It also encompassed the Reproductive Biology Unit, and the Special Pregnancy Unit which had started in 1984.

Dr. Adam Wright was head of the Department of Obstetrics until his retirement in 1907, followed by Dr. K.C. McIlwraith. When the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynaecology were combined, Dr. McIlwraith became the Senior Assistant.

Meanwhile, the TGH Department of Gynaecology was newly organized in the 1890s. On the retirement of Dr. Uzziel Ogden, Dr. J.F.W. Ross became the head of the Gynaecological Service (1903), until his death in 1911.

The combined Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology was under the leadership of Dr. B.P. Watson (1912- ). Dr. J.G. Gallie was appointed to the staff in 1913 and regular antenatal clinics were organized in the Burnside department under his supervision. In 1922 Dr. W.B. Hendry succeeded B.P. Watson as Obstetrician-and Gynaecologist-in-Chief and maintained this position until his retirement in 1935. This position was also held by Drs. [W.A. Scott?] (1936-1946), H.B. Van Wyck (1947-1950), D.E. Cannell (1950-1965), W.M. Paul (1965-1969), and J.L. Harkins (1970-1975?).


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The Toronto Hospital. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (1986-1999)

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Last updated: November 18, 2014. Added to Archeion November 18, 2014.

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Additional sources used for the administrative history:

C.K. Clarke. A History of the Toronto General Hospital. (Toronto: William Briggs, 1913)
W.G. Cosbie. The Toronto General Hospital, 1819-1965: A Chronicle. (Toronto: Macmillan, 1975)
J.T.H. Connor. Doing Good: The Life of Toronto's General Hospital. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000)
Annual Reports 1891-1985/86, Toronto General Hospital fonds, TG 1.2, University Health Network Archives, Toronto.
Staff Appointments, Toronto General Hospital fonds, TG 1.1, University Health Network Archives, Toronto.
University of Toronto President’s Reports, 1902-1974. Retrieved May 2014 from
George M. White, "The History of Obstetrical and Gynaecological Teaching in Canada,"
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 77(3) (March 1959): 467.

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