II-181471 | Ward L, Montreal General Hospital, Montreal, QC, 1910
Ward L, Montreal General Hospital, Montreal, QC, 1910
Wm. Notman & Son
1910, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Architecture (8646) , medical (125) , Photograph (77678)
Keys to History
Medical schools and hospitals began developing close alliances in the 19th century. In addition to their courses at the faculty, students had to take clinical lessons at the hospital.
At bedside, the professors demonstrated the new diagnostic methods that consisted of sounding and palpating the patients. Some used newly developed instruments such as stethoscopes and ophthalmoscopes. Others relied more on their senses.
This was true of Dr. Emmanuel-Persillier Lachapelle, who, in 1878, drilled into his students that "touching and seeing" were what made a good doctor. Moreover, he added, some physicians had such a keen sense of smell that they had "diagnosed many illnesses by odour alone."
The austerity of the public wards is evident in this photo. The lamps hanging by their wires, the bare walls and the wooden floors conjure up a bygone era.
Ward patients came from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Not all of them were jobless. Some workers and labourers simply did not have the money to pay for hospitalization.
For many people, hospitalization was a last recourse. In fact, people with serious fractures often waited weeks after the accident before going to hospital.
Not all ward patients were cooperative. Some smoked whenever they felt like it, others insulted the nurses or refused to follow the prescribed treatments. Orderlies like the one standing in the centre of the aisle kept things under control.