Black and white photograph of a stationary hospital

Military events feature large in the study of history just as military medicine contributes significantly to the history of medicine. You can read more about Schulich Medicine & Dentistry vibrant history of medicine program.

A hundred years ago, faculties of medicine from across Canada raised medical units to deploy overseas in support of Canadian troops and their allies in the First World War. The units (field ambulances, stationary hospitals and general hospitals) treated hundreds of thousands of casualties at a rate that is unimaginable today. Just as in today’s wars, medical care was given to injured combatants without distinction of their status as friends or enemies. Surgical care was provided at the highest level, often exceeding that available in Canada.

Surgical innovations were brought home after the war. Then as now, severely injured veterans continued to carry the effects of the war long after the conflict was forgotten by the rest of us.

The Canadian Journal of Surgery published a collection of article to analyze the contributions made by Canadian universities to the medical care of Canada’s soldiers in the First World War.

The series opened with an article about the No 10 Canadian Field Hospital (Western University) and continued until the centenary of the Armistice. The series, which was edited by Vivian McAlister, is available for your interest.


Hyatt AMJ, Beckett A, McAlister VC. After the war is over: the role of General Sir Arthur Currie in the development of academic medicine in Canada. Can J Surg. 2018 Dec 1;61(6):367-369. PubMed PMID: 30468370; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6281458.

Doucet J, Haley G, McAlister V. Massacre of Canadian Army Medical Corps personnel after the sinking of HMHS Llandovery Castle and the evolution of modern war crime jurisprudence. Can J Surg. 2018 Jun;61(3):155-157. PubMed PMID: 29806812; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5973902. 

Istl AC, McAlister VC. Medical response to the declaration of the First World War: The case of Edwin Seaborn. J Med Biogr. 2018 Nov;26(4):234-242. doi: 10.1177/0967772017752897. Epub 2018 May 4. PubMed PMID: 29724148.

Bernier JR, McAlister VC. The Canadian Army Medical Corps affair of 1916 and Surgeon General Guy Carleton Jones. Can J Surg. 2018 Apr;61(2):85-87. PubMed PMID: 29582742; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5866141.

McAlister V. Dr. Louis Kristal at 100: witness to the evolution of surgery in Canada. Can J Surg. 2017 Dec;60(6):364-365. PubMed PMID: 29173255; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5726960.

Istl AC, Gray DK. Roscoe R. Graham: An enduring legacy in the 21st century. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2017 Jan;82(1):216-220. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000001286. PubMed PMID: 27806000. 

Da Cambra MP, McAlister VC. Calgary, Edmonton and the University of Alberta: the extraordinary medical mobilization by Canada's newest province. Can J Surg. 2017 Sep;60(5):296-299. PubMed PMID: 28930035; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5608576.

McAlister VC, Harvey EJ. Continuing a long tradition: the Canadian Journal of Surgery at 60. Can J Surg. 2017 Sep;60(5):294-295. PubMed PMID: 28930034; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5608575.

McAlister V. Somewhere in France (9 April 17): a centenary review of medical arrangements at Vimy Ridge. Can J Surg. 2017 Apr;60(2):83-85. PubMed PMID: 28338467; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5373720. 

Istl AC, McAlister VC. Western University (No. 10 Canadian Stationary Hospital and No. 14 Canadian General Hospital): a study of medical volunteerism in the First World War. Can J Surg. 2016 Dec;59(6):371-373. PubMed PMID: 27827791; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5125918.

McAlister V. Canadian contribution to the ACS. Can J Surg. 2013 Aug;56(4):E45-6, E47-8. English, French. PubMed PMID: 23883501; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3728250.

Claydon E, McAlister VC. The life of John Wishart (1850-1926): study of an academic surgical career prior to the Flexner Report. World J Surg. 2012 Mar;36(3):684-8. doi: 10.1007/s00268-011-1407-x. PubMed PMID: 22270978; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3279636.

Geddes CR, McAlister VC. A surgical review of the priority claims attributed to Abraham Groves (1847-1935). Can J Surg. 2009 Oct;52(5):E126-30. PubMed PMID: 19865541; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2769104.

McAlister VC. Origins of the Canadian school of surgery. Can J Surg. 2007 Oct;50(5):357-63. Review. PubMed PMID: 18031633; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2386184. 

McAlister VC. William Harvey, Fabricius ab Acquapendente and the divide between medicine and surgery. Can J Surg. 2007 Feb;50(1):7-8. PubMed PMID: 17391608; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2384247.

McAlister V. Control of coagulation: a gift of Canadian agriculture. Clin Invest Med. 2006 Dec;29(6):373-7. Review. PubMed PMID: 17330453.

McAlister VC. Clinical kidney transplantation: a 50th anniversary review of the first reported series. Am J Surg. 2005 Sep;190(3):485-8. PubMed PMID:16105541.

McAlister V. Sacred disease of our times: failure of the infectious disease model of spongiform encephalopathy. Clin Invest Med. 2005 Jun;28(3):101-4. PubMed PMID: 16021982.

McAlister V. Maimonides's cooling period and organ retrieval. Can J Surg. 2004 Feb;47(1):8-9. Review. Erratum in: Can J Surg. 2004 Jun;47(3):218. PubMed PMID: 14997917; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3211808. 

Bednarski B, McAlister V. Literature and obstetrics: reading maternal posture in Jacques Ferron's "Little William". Lit Med. 2002 Fall;21(2):216-41. PubMed PMID: 12469442.