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Edith Aston-McCrimmon: Pioneer in Physiotherapy

Professor Edith Aston-McCrimmonEdith Aston-McCrimmon: Pioneer in Physiotherapy

One cannot delve into the history of McGill’s School of Physical and Occupational Therapy without mentioning Professor Edith Aston-McCrimmon’s name. Considered a pioneer in the development of the physical therapy profession in Canada, Professor Aston-McCrimmon taught thousands of students in her over 50-year career. Not one to shy away from a challenge, founded the first provincial association for physiotherapists and was an active member of many national organizations in support of this field. Her commitment and dedication to advancing the profession by promoting the need to establish it as an academic discipline in the late 1960s changed the face of physiotherapy curricula worldwide.

“I have every confidence that this lecture series will yield significant benefits for the students, faculty and university community and I commend [the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy] for recognizing such a deserving individual in this meaningful way.”

Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University

A devoted teacher, a trusted colleague, a nurturing mentor and a faithful friend – Edith Aston-McCrimmon meant so much to those who had the privilege of knowing her. She has left a legacy at McGill that deserves to be honoured – a lasting tribute to such an incredible, forward-thinking woman. Edith Aston-McCrimmon approached life with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Completing her undergraduate studies at McGill’s School of Physical and Occupational Therapy in 1950, Professor Aston-McCrimmon began her teaching career in 1952 at the same institution where she trained. Although she was an educator for the better part of her life, Aston-McCrimmon never lost her desire to be a student and learn from others. She was always taking continuing education courses, earning a physiotherapy education diploma in 1956, a bachelor of science degree in physical and occupational therapy in 1960, and finally a master of science degree in 1980.

Aside from her teaching responsibilities, Aston-McCrimmon was deeply committed to community outreach. Early in her career, she managed the physiotherapy services each summer at the Camp for Crippled Children offered by the Quebec Society for Disabled Children. Later in her career, she served on the board of directors for the Julius Richardson Hospital and several other committees related to its administration. Her innate desire to serve others and to lead by example was apparent in every aspect of her life. She was actively engaged in many national level organizations throughout her career, including the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA), where she served as director and then president for many years; the Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada, as one of its founding members; and CPA’s main publication Physiotherapy Canada, where she was associate editor and chairman of its board in the early 1980s. The CPA recognized Aston-McCrimmon’s contributions by making her an honorary member in 1976 and a lifetime member in 1997.

At McGill, Professor Aston-McCrimmon was just as influential, both within the Faculty of Medicine and the larger university community. She was promoted through the ranks to associate professor and held the position of associate director of the Physical Therapy Program for 13 years, from 1988 to 2001. She was also twice elected to Senate and was a member of countless other internal university committees. Her years of involvement in alumni events and programs earned her a much-deserved Distinguished Service Award in 1984. From her infectious enthusiasm and vigour for life to the many accolades bestowed upon her throughout her career, it is not hard to believe why those who follow in her footsteps are interested in honouring such a remarkably talented woman.

“We have here, in our memory to Edith, an absolutely golden opportunity to reach out and touch each and every graduate of this school.”

Anelia Wright, Dip(PTh)’57, BSc’58

A fitting way to honour Edith Aston-McCrimmon and her dedication to students, colleagues and to the entire physical and occupational therapy profession is through the creation of the Edith Aston-McCrimmon Lecture Series. McGill has raised $150,000 to endow this lecture series, so that it can become a landmark annual event bringing together alumni, educators, practitioners and students. To make this continue, we need your support.

To be held each year, this lecture series will encourage alumni to return to their alma mater for an engaging professional development opportunity. At the same time, current students will gain wisdom from those who are well-established in their careers. Connecting past with our future: an ideal tribute to recognize one woman’s passion for teaching and learning at the institution where it all took place.

Development and Alumni Relations
McGill University 1430 Peel Street Montreal,
Quebec, Canada H3A 3T3

McGill Development Office

Appreciation is extended to THE EDITH ASTON-McCRIMMON FAMILY