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Welcome to the McGill Department of Anesthesia. In these pages you will read the remarkable history of the first Canadian Department of Anesthesia. It is at McGill where the foundation of excellence in the areas of teaching, clinical care, and research were set and are continued today.

Our mission

The mission of the McGill Department of Anesthesia is to achieve excellence and innovation in the areas of teaching, clinical care, and research.

This Department is committed to lead in undergraduate and postgraduate education by providing up to date knowledge in all domains of anesthesia and analgesia. In addition, this Department fosters a strong commitment to Continuing Medical Education.

The McGill Department of Anesthesia boasts 5 teaching and 4 affiliated hospitals with a total of 74 clinical staff. All members of the McGill Department of Anesthesia are determined to provide the highest standard of perioperative clinical care to all patients. Efforts are made to maintain a high degree of respect for the person in care while achieving great professional competence. There is a need for this specialty to be at the center of the hospital life, and as such this department participates actively in the planning, organization and evaluation of patient care.

The Department has an active academic program which includes: Continuing Medical Education lecture series; Pain day for Montreal scientists and clinicians; McGill Anesthesia Update (previously known McGill Anesthesia Refresher course, running for the last 53 years, the oldest course in North America); The Philip Bromage Anesthesia Research Day; Airway Management Course for the Emergency Physician; Pain Management Course for the General Practitioner.

Research has an important place in enhancing the education and clinical care components of the mission, and therefore staff and students are encouraged to pursue basic and clinical research in all areas of anesthesia, pain medicine and critical care. The Anesthesia Research Unit based at the McIntyre Health Science Building is staffed with 4 world leading scientists, graduate students, and post-doctoral students.

The McGill spirit

Wesley Bourne established the first Canadian department of Anesthesia as well as the first diploma of Anesthesia at McGill University in 1945. Dr Bourne, a man of classical knowledge, was an enthralling teacher and great advocate of academic anesthesia.

Dr Harold Griffith, second Chairman, gained worldwide reputation for introducing curare in clinical practice in 1942, which changed for the better the practice of anesthesia.

Another illustrious anesthetist who greatly contributed to launching McGill Anesthesia into the international arena was Dr Philip Bromage. It was at McGill that Dr Bromage elaborated all the seminal work on epidural blockade.

Besides these three giants of the Anesthesia world, one should not forget the many staff, fellows, researchers, residents that came from all over Canada, USA, and other part of the world to Montreal and McGill to participate in the "McGill spirit". All these persons have been crucial in the development and achievements of the Department. The flame of passionate idealism was lit by Wesley Bourne 58 years ago and continues to inspire many who come to work here.

In 1996, in occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Department, Dr Tony Davenport (McGill 1951-1966) edited the book entitled " Anesthesia at McGill [.pdf] - With a flame of passionate idealism". I strongly recommend you read this review of the last 50 years recounted by living voices of those involved, Deans, Chairmen, Researchers, Students, Staff and Fellows.

Two other books have been written by our faculty on the life and achievements of Drs Wesley Bourne and Harold Griffith and are made available on this site for those who wish to become acquainted with these two great visionaries.

History of McGill Anesthesia

Anaesthesia at McGill "With a flame of Passionate Idealism
Edited by Harold T. Davenport, FRCPC, FFARCS (Eng)
"A recounting of the evolution of the first Canadian Anesthesia Department by some of the key anesthesiologists who played major roles in influencing Anesthesia practice today."

Download the following PDF to read more about the history of Anesthesia at McGill [.pdf]