A SHOCK of surprise and pain has come to the profession by the untimely death of Dr. James Bell, surgeon to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, which occurred on April 11th. The illness lasted only five days, and the cause of death was appendicitis. On the following day the corporation of his university assembled and passed a resolution of regret, which so well defines the circumstances that we transcribe it from the minutes.

“The Corporation of McGill University here assembled desires to place on record its deep regret at the sudden and untimely death of Dr. James Bell, head of the surgical department of this university, and its recognition of the great loss sustained by the medical faculty and the university at large.

“Throughout his whole professional life Dr. Bell was most intimately associated with this university. After a brilliant career as an undergraduate, he took his degree in 1877, winning the Holmes medal, and after serving in the Montreal General Hospital as house surgeon and as medical superintendent for eight years, for another eight years he was attending surgeon at that hospital, until, 1894, he received the appointment of surgeon to the Royal Victoria Hospital, then newly opened. This latter position he held until his death . His work as a teacher had been continuous from the time of his first appointment on the staff of the Montreal General Hospital. He attained professorial rank in the medical faculty in 1891, and gained successive promotions until 1907, when, as professor of surgery and clinical surgery, he became head of the surgical department of the university.

“This Corporation recognizes his remarkable accuracy as a diagnostician, his wise conservatism in all surgical matters, and his extraordinary skill as an operator, in which he was almost without peer upon this continent—these, together with his ability as a clinical instructor, added much to the reputation of McGill University, both at home and abroad. Indefatigable as a worker, conscientious, accurate, and thorough in everything he undertook, he was a most helpful and valued counsellor in all matters pertaining to medial education.”

To the association Dr. Bell’s death comes very near. He was chairman of the finance committee and conducted all the negotiations which led up to the establishment of the JOURNAL.

Source: Unknown, "Dr. James Bell — Obituary," Canadian Medical Association Journal 1 (1911): 453-454

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