No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) in the Great War: service and sacrifice

No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) in the Great War: service and sacrifice

Can J Surg 2018;61(1):8-12 | PDF

Lt-Col Andrew Beckett, MD; Edward J. Harvey, MD


During the Great War, McGill University fielded a full general hospital to care for the wounded and sick among the Allied forces fighting in France and Belgium. The unit was designated No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) and included some of the best medical minds in Canada. Because the unit had a relationship with Sir William Osler, who was a professor at McGill from 1874 to 1885, the unit received special attention throughout the war, and legendary Canadian medical figures, such as John McCrae, Edward Archibald and Francis Scrimger, VC, served on its staff. The unit cared for thousands of victims of the war, and its trauma care advanced through the clinical innovation and research demanded by the nature of its work. Although No. 3 Canadian General Hospital suffered tragedies as well, such as the deaths of John McCrae and Osler’s only son Revere, by the war’s end the McGill hospital was known as one of the best medical units within the armies in France.

Accepted for publication Sept. 6, 2017; Published online Dec. 1, 2017

Affiliations: From Royal Canadian Medical Services (Beckett) and McGill University, Montreal, Que. (Beckett, Harvey).

Competing interests: E.J. Harvey is the Chief Medical Officer of Greybox Healthcare (Montreal) and Chairman of the Board of NXTSens Inc. (Montreal). No other competing interests declared.

Contributors: Both authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing, and revision of this article, and approved the final version for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.012717

Correspondence to: A. Beckett, Royal Canadian Medical Services, McGill University Health Centre, L9.411-1650 Cedar Ave, Montreal QC H3G 1A4,