MP-0000.25.254.2 | Hygiene lab, Medical building, McGill University, Montreal, QC, about 1895

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Photograph, glass lantern slide
Hygiene lab, Medical building, McGill University, Montreal, QC, about 1895
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1895, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 8 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , educational (709) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

In 1867, the English surgeon Joseph Lister introduces two important medical techniques: sterilization, which prevents infection by destroying bacteria before they contaminate human flesh, and antiseptics, which kill harmful bacteria. These techniques revolutionize health care the world over, including in Montreal, where the new methods are readily adopted. The Royal Victoria Hospital, which opens in 1894, is conceived to not only put into practice the new techniques, but to teach them in its instructional laboratories.

Alarmed by the poor health of the workers in the city, the doctors of Montreal, philanthropists in their own right, work to prevent epidemics and also to combat other underlying causes of poor health: unsanitary living conditions, mental illness, poverty, crime, alcoholism, ignorance and work-related illnesses. Gradually, people here begin to take to heart the message about "listening to one's own body" and observing the rules of proper hygiene.

Source : Brand New and Wonderful: The Rise of Technology [Web tour], by Jacques G. Ruelland, Université de Montréal (see Links)

  • What

    In Montreal, McGill University (founded in 1821) and the Royal Victoria Hospital are forerunners in adopting and teaching the new sterilization and antiseptic techniques.

  • Where

    McGill University's medical courses are taught at the Royal Victoria Hospital after the opening of the hospital in 1894.

  • When

    Medical students at McGill must do an internship in Europe before completing their studies in Montreal. In the 19th century, medical practice in Canada is thus enriched by medical innovations in Europe.

  • Who

    At the end of the 19th century, public hygiene is one of the main preoccupations of medical and political authorities.