Wesley Bourne: The Quintessential Canadian Anaesthetist


138 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-7735-1455-4
DDC 617.9'6'092




Cynthia R. Comacchio is an associate professor of history at Wilfrid
Laurier University and the author of Nations Are Built of Babies: Saving
Ontario’s Mothers and Children.


This contribution to McGill University’s Fontanus series combines a
biographical approach with a chronological sketch of developments in the
history of anaesthesia at the university during the first 60 years of
this century.

Dr. Wesley Bourne was born on his father’s sugar cane plantation in
St. Philip, Barbados, in 1886. He graduated from McGill with a medical
degree in 1911, served in the army medical corps during the Great War,
and returned to McGill to teach and perform research in pharmacology and
clinical anaesthesia. Bourne personally organized an anaesthesia society
in Montreal and later became president of the International Anaesthesia
Research Society, the American Society of Anaesthesiologists. He
inaugurated a three-year diploma course in anaesthesia that became the
model for specialized training in that medical field. His own active
participation in the field and his many contributions to theory and
practice gave Bourne, and McGill medicine, an international role in the
advancement of anaesthesia as both medical instrument and legitimate
area of specialization.

The authors have provided a readable and careful survey of developments
in the history of anesthesia and the Canadian contributions. Their
references to archival materials at McGill, and especially their
comprehensive bibliography of Bourne’s own publications, make the book
a useful source for those interested in the history of medicine, the
development of McGill/Canadian medicine, and this particular area of


Bevan, Joan C., and Maria A. Pacelli., “Wesley Bourne: The Quintessential Canadian Anaesthetist,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/3666.