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Royal Victoria Hospital


The Royal Victoria Hospital was established in 1893 through donations by two Scottish immigrants, Donald Smith, 1st Lord Strathcona, and his cousin George Stephen, 1st Lord Mount Stephen, who made their fortunes as businessmen, co-founding the Canadian Pacific Railway among other ventures.


Royal Victoria Hospital - ca 1910  (McCord Museum)
Royal Victoria Hospital – ca 1910 (McCord Museum)

In 1887, they provided a joint gift of one million dollars for the  construction of a free hospital in Montreal, to celebrate Queen Victoria’s fiftieth year on the throne, and purchased a site on Mount Royal for a further $86,000, and donated it to the City of Montreal on one condition: that the site would be dedicated to “healing the sick without distinction of race or creed.” The site they bought was the 10-acre Frothingham estate. (John Frothingham and William Workman established Canada’s largest wholesale hardware business in 1836).


Royal Victoria Hospital - 2016  (Photo: Dick Nieuwendyk)
Royal Victoria Hospital – 2016 (Photo: Dick Nieuwendyk)

At the time of its opening in 1893, the Royal Victoria Hospital had 150 employees, including 14 medical doctors, and was considered the finest and best equipped in North America. From its early days, major contributions by prominent members of Montreal’s English speaking community, and residents of the Golden Square Mile, brought the hospital global reputation for teaching, clinical care and pioneering research. They included James Ross, Richard Angus, Sir Vincent  Meredith and Sir Montagu Allan. The location of the hospital was chosen because of its park setting and healthy air with the added benefit of a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River and downtown Montreal. A number of expansions have made the Royal Victoria a prestigious medical complex. The original buildings were designed by the Scottish architect Henry Saxon Snell, whose plans for the Royal Vic were inspired by the Scottish baronial style of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. Constructed of Montreal limestone, the original Royal Vic is distinguished by its crenelated structures and turrets framing large sun porches at the corners of its medical and surgical wards.


In 1920, the hospital was affiliated with McGill University Faculty of Medicine and became a medical research institute. In 1929, Dr. Wilder Penfield established the Montreal Neurological Institute adjacent to the hospital. Among the list of medical achievements at the Royal Victoria was the first successful kidney transplant in the Commonwealth in 1958.


Today, together with the Montreal Children’s Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital, the

Montreal General Hospital and the Montreal Chest Institute, the Royal Victoria Hospital is part of the McGill University Health Centre, located at the Glen site, 1001 Decarie Blvd.

By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca


Source: McGill University / The Canadian Encyclopedia / The Main /


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