In late 18th- and early 19th- century Upper Canada, a variety of Acts were passed which attempted to restrict the practice of medicine and surgery to licensed individuals with formal training. Despite attempts to prevent the spread of “quackery”, unlicensed practice proved difficult to regulate.
Many individuals chose to self-treat or visit an unlicensed practitioner. Indeed, the vast numbers of patent medicine advertisements, directed at the average person, indicate the extent to which patients took their health into their own hands.
However, alongside this common trade in patent and popular medicines, professional medicine became increasingly institutionalized. Medical schools were opened beginning around the middle of the 19th century, new hospitals and asylums were constructed, and licensing regulations were increasingly enforced.
This portable booklet allowed for the quick determination of a patient’s hemoglobin levels. The colour of a drop of the patient’s blood on blotting paper was simply compared to the colours on the scale, which correspond to different concentrations of hemoglobin. This diagnostic tool would have been used to diagnose conditions such as anemia. (Early [Read More...]
This baby scale was used by Dr. Eli Irvine who practiced medicine in Weston, ON (now part of Toronto) beginning in the 1890s. Emerging in the medical clinics of Paris in the middle of the nineteenth century, the baby scale became a critical instrument in distinguishing ‘normality’ from ‘abnormality’ in infant development. (Late 19th Century) [Read More...]
Items (a) through (d) belonged to Dr. Albert Cuddy, a family physician who graduated from medical school in 1930. Together, they indicate the wide variety of procedures that family physicians in the Toronto area would have performed as part of their daily practices. By the beginning of the 20th century, practicing family physicians [Read More...]
Catgut, a fibre made out of the intestinal walls of ruminants, was once widely used as a surgical suture. It naturally breaks down in the body over time. This particular product was additionally infused with a bactericidal agent to prevent infection. Each vial contained approximately 60 inches of suture. (Early 20th Century) Source: Medical Alumni [Read More...]
A stereoscope is a device that allows viewers perceive two side-by-side photographs, taken at slightly different angles of the same scene, as one three-dimensional image. This stereoscope set, with 132 cards, was used for teaching practitioners and students various dermatological conditions. (c. 1914) Source: Medical Alumni Association Collection
This fee schedule, adopted in 1922, indicates the prices that Ontario physicians could charge for particular services provided. The mileage charge (one dollar per mile, one way) indicates that practitioners were traveling to visit their patients at home, rather than in a doctor’s office. (1920s) Source: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
These lecture cards belonged to the student W.G. Harrison. Medical students at the University of Victoria College used cards such as these as entrance tickets to course lectures. Professors would sign the cards to indicate the student’s attendance at lectures. The dates indicate that Harrison attended courses such as “Materia Medica and Therapeutics” and “Principles [Read More...]
The Provincial Lunatic Asylum, located at 999 Queen Street was opened in January 1850. The asylum was constructed with the aim of improving the care and treatment of the insane. It was built in response to an act passed by the Upper Canadian House of Assembly in 1839 authorizing the construction of an asylum “for [Read More...]
This booklet would have been distributed to patients staying at the Toronto General Hospital. Inside, it includes information on meals, visiting hours, and laundry services. “Eggnogs”, cocoa, and malted milk could be purchased by patients at an additional price of 10 cents each. (c. 1932) Source: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
The Department of Medicine of Victoria University was established in 1853. This annual announcement from the Medical Department indicates that the 1872-1873 session began in a new building, across from the Toronto General Hospital. This was advantageous for students, as they could now easily walk across the street to the hospital. (1872) Source: Thomas Fisher [Read More...]