MP-0000.25.255 | Bacteriological Lab, Medical building, McGill University, Montreal, QC, about 1895

Photograph, glass lantern slide
Bacteriological 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

The advent of medical bacteriology in Canada in the 1880s drastically improved procedures for preventing the spread of infectious disease.

Laboratory research conducted by French scientists, including the famous Louis Pasteur, and later in Germany had partially elucidated the mysteries of infection and contagion, and it was now possible to identify the infection-causing microbes and determine their means of transmission: air, water, saliva, food, etc.

Gradually, laboratories for detecting pathogenic germs were opened in all hospitals, which also helped to improve diagnostic procedures and develop more efficient disinfection methods. Their role was vitally important, since hospital infections were rampant at the time.

Medical hygienists were waging a sanitation campaign, using the fear of germs as a weapon of prevention.

  • What

    The development of medical bacteriology required the creation of new research and diagnostic facilities. This was an important step in detecting and preventing infectious diseases.

  • Where

    The earliest bacteriology courses were given in Canadian medical schools in the 1890s. McGill University was one of the first to have this type of laboratory.

  • When

    Hospitals in large Canadian cities began setting up bacteriology laboratories in the late 19th century. Headed by the resident bacteriologist/physician, these labs served to identify patient infections.

  • Who

    The introduction of bacteriological techniques in Canada was primarily the work of Canadian medical school graduates having had further training in Europe. French Canadians trained in France, and English Canadians, in Germany.