William Osler

Canadian stamp William Osler

William Osler commemorative stamp

1849 - 1919
William Osler's interest in pathology began when he was a medical student at McGill between 1870 and 1872, during which time he attended postmortems at the Montreal General Hospital and completed a thesis that included a number of microscopic and other pathologic preparations.

When Osler returned to Montreal from Europe, Dr. Morley Drake, Professor of the McGill Institutes of Medicine, became ill from heart disease and could not fulfill his teaching responsibilities. The Faculty asked Osler to assume Drake’s duties, and he was appointed lecturer in 1874. Soon thereafter, he acquired a position as a physician at the Montreal General Hospital, where he undertook to perform autopsies for the entire hospital staff from which he donated many specimens to the Medical Museum for teaching medical students.

Between 1876 and 1884, he completed approximately 800 of these, many of which he documented by hand in an autopsy logbook.


Montreal General Hospital Reports. 1880.
Montreal General Hospital Reports. 1880.
A selection of cases performed between October 1877 and October 1879 was described in the Montreal General Hospital Pathological Report No. II, which was published in 1880.
McGill Medical Museum specimen card, describing an aortic valve donated by Osler.
A significant number of these specimens were also used for
presentation at the Montreal Medico-Chirurgical Society and for publication in the journal of that and other groups.
These presentations and publications played an important role in Osler’s developing prestige and formed the basis for much of the material that went into his popular textbook on medicine published in 1892, Principles and Practices of Medicine (D. Appleton and Company, 1892). 


Osler Library of the History of Medicine

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

Cushing H. The life of Sir William Osler. Oxford: Clarendon Press; 1925.


Bliss Michael. William Osler: a life in medicine. Toronto: University of Toronto Press; 1999.

Shepherd, Francis J. Biographical sketch: Sir William Osler. Reprinted from the Osler Memorial Number of The Canadian Medical Association Journal. (July 1920) 8p.

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