History of General Surgery

The origin and development of the Division of General Surgery is intimately involved with the life of Dr. William Edward Gallie. Dr. Gallie graduated from the University of Toronto in Medicine 1903. He then spent a year (1903-1904) as an intern at The Hospital for Sick Children, and in 1904-1905 as an intern at The Toronto General Hospital. In 1905 Dr. Gallie spent one year at The Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled in New York. 

In 1906 Dr. W.E. Gallie returned to Toronto and obtained an appointment on staff at The Hospital for Sick Children as an orthopaedic surgeon. The following year, in 1907, he was appointed a junior surgeon on the staff of The Toronto General Hospital. In 1910, Dr. Gallie left The Toronto General Hospital and devoted his whole time to The Hospital for Sick Children. His interest was in clinical problems and what he could do to cure them by new or improved surgical procedures. To find the answers he turned to animal experimentation. 

In 1919, Dr. Gallie successfully completed the final examination for the English Fellowship--F.R.C.S. Eng. 

In 1921, Dr. C.L. Starr became the first full time professor of surgery in Canada and Surgeon in Chief at The Toronto General Hospital. Dr. S.E. Gallie succeeded him as the Surgeon in Chief at The Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Starr died on Christmas Day in 1928 and in May of 1929, Dr. Gallie was appointed professor of surgery and Surgeon in Chief at The Toronto General Hospital. 

Dr. Gallie then brought Toronto Western Hospital and St. Michael's Hospital into the University orbit so that their teaching staff would obtain the University appointments. His greatest accomplishment in this period was the establishment of a systematic course of training in surgery designed to give each resident adequate experience in the basic sciences and in surgery and to qualify him or her to sit for the examinations of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. It was the first such course in Canada and was in advance of the training courses in England and in the United States. 

This was an immediate success and has been widely adopted throughout Canada. 

In 1941, Dr. Gallie was elected President of the American College of Surgeons. Because of Pearl Harbor (December 1941) the formal meetings of the College were suspended. Thus Dr. Gallie had the unprecedented experience of holding the office of the President of the American College for Surgeons for six years. 

Dr. Gallie retired from General Surgery in 1947 at the age of 65. In 1951, Dr. Gallie interested a friend, Mr. R.S. Mclaughlin in establishing the R. Samuel Mclaughlin Foundation. This finances the advanced post-graduate studies of prospective teachers in Canadian medical schools. In September 25, 1959, Dr. Gallie died of wide spread squamous cell carcinoma. 

Dr. Gallie was a great clinical teacher at the bedside and in the lecture theatre. He was gifted with high intelligence and boundless energies. His great qualities as a surgeon, as an administrator and as a teacher were excelled by his even greater qualities of personality and character. He was open hearted and friendly. 

The post-graduate training course in surgery at the University of Toronto was inaugurated by Dr. Gallie on July 1, 1931, by the appointment of three senior interns; one to each of the three surgical services at The Toronto General Hospital. Each of these appointees had just finished their post-graduate year in Pathology and had agreed to two years training in surgery. The first year was in General Surgery and the second was divided into six month appointments in any two of the three specialties; Urology, Neurosurgery or Pediatric Surgery. In addition, three other appointments were made, each for six months in Medicine and six months in Pathology, The following year they proceeded to the three surgical services. They then completed their three year training.

The program of training gradually spread from The Toronto General Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children to all teaching hospitals associated with The University of Toronto; Toronto Western, St. Michael's, Sunnybrook, Wellesley, Women's, Mount Sinai, Toronto East General and St. Joseph Hospitals. The post-graduate program is now widely known as The Gallie Course in General Surgery.