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Covid Response

Lessons from the NS Covid Response – Video

By Dr. Robert Strang

Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health. Dalhousie Society for the History of Medicine, May 1st, 2023.

Sadler NS Flag

NS flag flown by Dr. Stewart while working in a hospital unit was in France in WWI

By Dr. Allan Marble

Here is the Flag which, it is believed, was flown outside the # 7 Stationary Hospital in France in WWII where Dr. John Stewart was posted.


A HISTORICAL AMPUTATION: Premier George Murray and surgeon Dr. John Stewart meet at the operating table

By Dr. Allan Marble

On May 7, 1910, Dr. John Stewart amputated Nova Scotia Premier George Murray’s left leg at the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax. This very little-known event was reported in a very brief statement in the Halifax Evening Mail on May 9, 1910, which read:

Dr. Gosse

Nova Scotia Physicians on D-Day: Dr. Clarence L. Gosse led the first surgical unit onto Normandy beaches in June 1944

By Dr. Allan Marble

The long-awaited invasion of northwest Europe by the Allies took place June 6, 1944. Several medical officers from Nova Scotia participated in the Normandy invasion, including: Lt-Col. Victor 0. Mader from Halifax; Lt.-Col. Donald Campbell from Marble Mountain, Cape Breton; Lt.-Col. Clarence Bethune from Baddeck; and Lt.-Col. Clarence L. Gosse from Halifax.

Halifax Medical College

FORGING A PATH: Dr. Katherine J. MacKay was the first female doctor to establish a practice in rural Nova Scotia

By Dr. Allan Marble

Prior to 1888, women were unable to enroll in medical school in Canada and had to travel to New York or Philadelphia to study for an MD. Annie Maxwell from Mount Thom, Pictou County, obtained her MD in 1873 at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She did not return to Nova Scotia to practise, however. Maria Angwin, an MD graduate of the Women’s Medical College in New York, became the first female doctor to establish a practice in Halifax in 1886.

Carbolic Acid Spray Device

SLOW TO SPREAD: Antiseptic surgery transformed medicine but took time to be accepted by physicians

By Dr. Allan Marble

Dr. Joseph Lister first used carbolic acid as an antiseptic during an operation on a patient with a compound fracture at the Glasgow Infirmary in Scotland on Aug. 12, 1865. He published a paper on this successful procedure in the Lancet on March 16, 1867.

Heart surgury doctors

HEART SURGERY IN NOVA SCOTIA: The first open-heart operation in the province took place just 56 years ago

By Dr. Allan Marble

In much of the 19th and 20th centuries, medi­cal taboos meant that the heart was off-limits for surgeons. In 1880, Dr. Theodor Billroth, chief of the surgical clinic at the famous Vienna School of Surgery, wrote:

Alexander Fleming

PENICILLIN COMES TO NOVA SCOTIA: Wonder drug introduced just 75 years ago

By Dr. Allan Marble

The era of antibiotics began with the introduction of penicillin in the early 1940s. Although Alexander Fleming had discovered the unusual ability of penicillin to kill harmful bacteria in 1928, it was another 10 years before researchers at Oxford University success-fully purified penicillin and first administered it to a patient.


THEIR PATRIOTIC DUTY: Nova Scotian doctors and nurses respond to the declaration of war – in 1914

By Dr. Allan Marble

A total of 236 medical officers and 286 nursing sisters from Nova Scotia served in First World War. These numbers are remarkable: Nova Scotia provided just over 15% of Canada’s medical officers and nursing sisters during the war, even though the province had only 6% of Canada’s population.

Margaret Clotilde MacDonald

HAIL TO THE MATRON-IN-CHIEF: Nova Scotian Margaret Clotilde MacDonald led the Canadian Nursing Corps during First World War

By Dr. Allan Marble

In August 1914, Maj.-Gen. Dr. Guy Carleton Jones, Director of Medical Services for the Canadian Army, invited Margaret Clotilde MacDonald to Ottawa and asked her to mobilize Canada’s Nursing Sisters. They had both served in the South African War (1900–02), and very likely met at that time. Maj.-Gen. Jones was no doubt aware of Miss MacDonald’s extensive military and nursing career, which had begun in 1898 with the Spanish American War.

Dr. Guy Jones

DOCTORS AT WAR: Province's physicians played crucial role in First World War

By Dr. Allan Marble

In August 1914, at the outbreak of the First  World War, there were 20 medical officers in the Canadian Army. During the war, another 1,525 medical officers enlisted, including more than 200 doctors from Nova Scotia.

The Birth of Maternity Care

THE BIRTH OF MATERNITY CARE IN NOVA SCOTIA: Bringing maternity hospitals to Halifax

By Dr. Allan Marble

The Nova Scotia government opened the Provincial and City Hospital in Halifax in 1867 and renamed it the Victoria General Hospital in 1887.

Dr. Hawkins

HALIFAX WAS PLUNGED INTO GLOOM: Spanish influenza in Nova Scotia in 1918

By Dr. Allan Marble

Between September 1918 and April 1919, more than 2,000 Nova Scotians died of Spanish influenza. It first appeared in Cape Breton in early September, having been brought there by soldiers returning from Europe. The influenza had attacked both Germans and Allies on the battlefields during the summer of 1918, and had a major role to play in the outcome of the war.


CONQUERING TUBERCULOSIS IN NOVA SCOTIA: How a medical advancement from an unexpected ally made the difference

By Dr. Allan Marble

Prior to the 17th century, the disease we now call pulmonary tuberculosis was called phthisis, a Greek word that described the wasting and melting away of the body due to a lung disease. English physicians in the 17th century adopted the Latin word consumer, meaning to eat up or devour, to describe emaciated patients who were burning up with fever and losing weight. They referred to the fore-going wasting disease as “consumption.”


TWO PIONEERS OF CANCER THERAPY: The years-long quest to bring radium to Nova Scotia

By Dr. Allan Marble

Although radium was discovered by the Curies in 1898, and Henri Becquerel noted that skin became severely inflamed when placed in close proximity to radium in 1901, it took many years before the rare element became available to kill cancerous cells.


A DAY IN THE LIFE OF DR. GEORGE H. COX: One physician, 1,500 victims of the Halifax Explosion

By Dr. Allan Marble

At the time of the Halifax Explosion, Dr. George H. Cox had been practising as an oculist and aurist in New Glasgow, N.S., for 20 years. But none of his training and experience could have prepared him for what he saw in Halifax on the evening of Dec. 6, 1917.

Thank you to:

Doctors NS
College of Physicians and Surgeons of NS
Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine

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