Lives of the fellows

Lorne Cuthbert Montgomery

b.5 August 1884 d.4 March 1985
OBE(1945) MC(1918) MD CM McGill(1920) FRCPC(1931) *FRCP(1943)

Lorne Cuthbert Montgomery - better known to many as ‘Monty’ or ‘Dr Monty' and to some as ‘Colonel Monty' - was born in New Richmond, Quebec, where his father Robert Hudson Montgomery was a lumber merchant. He was educated at Montreal High School and St Andrew’s College, Toronto, and enrolled in medicine at McGill University in the fall of 1912 when he was 18 years old. He proved to be both a good student and a brilliant athlete. At that time the medical course extended over five years and he had completed three years of his undergraduate training when, with the advent of the first world war in 1914, he enlisted as a private in the McGill unit, No 3 Canadian General Hospital, and went overseas in May 1915. Within a short time he was promoted to the rank of sergeant. In 1916 he tired of the relatively protected situation of a base hospital and sought a more active role. He transferred to the 42nd Battalion, Royal Highlanders of Canada, and was commissioned as an infantry officer. He saw action in the battles of the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. He was wounded four times and awarded the Military Cross for bravery in action.

In early 1918, because of the shortage of medical personnel, he was returned to Canada with instructions to resume his medical course. He completed the final two years of the five year course and on graduation he was awarded the Wood gold medal for the highest standing in clinical subjects in the final year. Following graduation he spent a year as an intern at the Montreal General Hospital and another at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 1923 he joined the staff of the Montreal General as assistant to the department of medicine and a year later he was appointed demonstrator in medicine at McGill University. By 1936 he was a senior physician at the hospital and by 1939 he was a full professor of medicine at McGill University. He was in the running to be physician-in-chief when the second world war broke out. As might be expected, Monty enlisted promptly for overseas service; this time as officer in charge of medicine in No 14 Canadian General Hospital with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was subsequently transferred to the Canadian Military Headquarters in London as chief consultant in medicine with the rank of full colonel. Having served in the ranks during the first world war he knew about the problems of the troops and this, together with his sound knowledge of medicine, made him an excellent choice for the position. His performance was outstanding and grateful recognition came to him from several quarters: he was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire, an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine of London and a Fellow of the College. He received the Canadian Voluntary Decoration and for his work which resulted in ' . . many improvements in the care of sick personnel in the American Army ... ’ the United States awarded him the Legion of Merit.

During the 1939-45 world war, Monty gave freely of his strength in the performance of his duties and in the end he gave too much. He suffered a serious breakdown in health and returned to Canada in 1945 to be physician-in-chief and professor of the university but was obliged to relinquish these posts within a very short while. Thereafter he confined his medical activities to private practice. In 1960 McGill recognized his contributions to medicine by conferring on him the title of Emeritus Professor. He finally retired completely m 1972 and spent his declining years at Central Park Lodge in St Lambert. He had married Eileen Jackson in 1920, who predeceased him, and they had a son, Hugh, and a daughter, Sheila.

R R Forsey

* Elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature.."

[Eulogy, Montreal General Hospital]

(Volume IX, page 378)

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