Sir Thomas George Roddick — Obituary

Sir Thomas George Roddick. It was with very general regret that the profession throughout Canada learned of the death of Sir Thomas Roddick on February 20th.

To few medical men is it given to be so widely and so generally respected, and to have been able in so many ways to render great service to his country. Born in Newfoundland in 1846, he received his early education in Truro, N.S., and his medical education in McGill University under Campbell, Howard, Sutherland and MacCallum. He graduated with honours in 1868, and afterwards served as house surgeon and later as attending surgeon at the Montreal General Hospital. He was appointed Professor of Clinical Surgery in the Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, in 1875, Professor of Surgery in 1890, and was chosen Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in 1891. On retiring from this position, and from the practice of his profession he was elected as representative of the Faculty on the governing body of the University. As a colleague he was at all times warm hearted and generous; as a teacher he was inspiring. He was beloved by his patients, to whom he was always kind and never exacting.

On the announcement by Sir Joseph Lister of the successful results obtained from the employment of antiseptic lotions and sprays in surgery, thereby checking subsequent inflammation and suppuration, Dr. Roddick was one of the first to recognize the great value of the discovery. He promptly left his work in the hospital and spent three months in Edinburgh, watching Lister's work and learning his methods. On his return he introduced these methods into the surgical wards of the General Hospital, which thereby became one of the first in America to attest the value of Lister's teachings. From here as a centre the great value of antisepsis, and later of asepsis, became generally recognized throughout Canada. When the British Medical Association accepted the invitation of the profession in Canada to hold its annual meeting in Montreal, Dr. Roddick was elected as its President, and was thus the first Colonial President in the history of the British Association. On the outbreak of the North West Rebellion in 1885 he volunteered and was appointed chief surgeon to the Canadian forces. For his services in this expedition he was mentioned in despatches and recommended for the order of C.M.G. Another service rendered to the profession was when he gave up his practice and stood for the St. Antoine division in Montreal as its representative in Parliament, with the object of introducing a bill to establish one possible portal of entrance to the practice of medicine throughout the Dominion. He hoped gradually by means of this common portal to unify the profession in the several provinces and permit those graduating from its examination halls to practise not only in any province of the Dominion, but also in any part of the British Empire. He met with much opposition at first, but gradually overcame it, but not before Parliament was dissolved. He stood again for the same division, and shortly afterwards was able to introduce his bill, now known as the "Roddick Bill," recognized by all the provinces and effecting much good by affording a common standard while effectually protecting the rights of each individual province. To his initiative in 1905 and 1906 the Alexandra Hospital for Infectious Diseases, in Montreal, owes its existence. For many years he acted as its first president, and always took an active part in all matters which affected its interests.

For the past few years Sir Thomas Roddick has been gradually failing in health. An increasing arteriosclerosis compelled him to give up private practice almost entirely, and to absent himself from all public gatherings. His winters were spent in Florida, with the exception of the present one, when his strength did not permit the exertion necessitated by travel. Honoured by the King, by his University, and by his Faculty, and held in affectionate remembrance by his many patients he died very peacefully, and was laid at rest in Mount Royal Cemetery.

Source: Unknown, Sir Thomas George Roddick — Obituary, The Canadian Medical Association Journal (1923): 296

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