Lives of the fellows

John Clifford Richardson

b.9 January 1909 d.15 June 1986
MBE(1945) MD Toronto(1932)BSc(1935) MRCP(1937) FRCP(1955)

Clifford (Ric) Richardson was born in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, where his father John Alfred Richardson owned a printing business. The family moved to Toronto where Ric attended Oakwood and Bloor Collegiates, subsequently entering the medical course at Toronto University where he was awarded the David Dunlop prize in psychiatry. It was at this time that he developed his interest in brain sciences, which was strengthened by an elective in neuroanatomy under Eric Linell. His first posting was as a junior house physician and surgeon at Toronto General Hospital, thereby establishing an association with the hospital which was to last throughout his lire. He was appointed to one of the three senior internships in medicine under Duncan Graham [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.204]. This was followed by a year as autopsy fellow at the Banting Institute under Oskar Klotz during which time he qualified BSc (Med).

He then decided to specialize in neurology and in 1935 he came to the UK and the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square. After six months he became one of the few Canadians to be appointed house physician at the hospital, spending two years apprenticed to G M Holmes, later Sir Gordon, [Munk's Roll, Vol.V, p.195]; J Purdon Martin [Munk's Roll, Vol.VIII, p.323]; C P Symonds, later Sir Charles [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.563]; Macdonald Critchley, and D E Denny-Brown [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.146]. Part of this time was spent in neuropathology with Godwin Greenfield [Munk's Roll, Vol.V, p.164] and led to his first paper, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, on haematomyelia. He also obtained his membership of the College, being elected a Fellow in 1955.

While in England he met and married Winifred Frances Murray, a physician working at Queen Square. She taught neuroanatomy at the University of Toronto, collaborating in research with her husband and active in volunteer activities. They had two sons, both became doctors -Peter a neurosurgeon in Montreal, and Timothy a radiologist in Toronto. Mary Frances died in 1984. There are five grandchildren.

In 1937 Richardson returned to the Banting Institute as a fellow, with Eric Linell who had recently established a department of neuropathology. During the year he carried out pathological studies that served as a basis for the widely cited paper on cerebral aneurysm published with Herbert Hyland [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.294J in Medicine, 1941. In 1938 he joined the staff of the department of medicine at the Toronto General Hospital as a clinical instructor in neurology and medicine.

With the advent of the second world war he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Medical Corps and was posted to the Canadian Neurological Hospital at Basingstoke, England, which was staffed by neurologists, neurosurgeons and psychiatrists from Montreal and Canada. Promoted to lieutenant colonel, he became officer in charge of the neurological division of the hospital in 1942, travelling to Europe and overseas as adviser in neuropsychiatry to several hospitals. While at Basingstoke, Ric collaborated with Hyland in a study of psychoneurosis in the armed forces which was subsequently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. For his work at Basingstoke he was awarded the MBE.

He returned to Toronto in 1945 and re-established his practice in neurology and his post in the department of medicine at the Toronto General. He also continued to spend some time in neuropathology. He established a neurosis unit at the Wellesley Hospital, with Herbert Hyland and Alan Walters, where he continued to be active until 1960. He was elected a fellow of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 1946.

With Armour, Hyland and Walters, he set up a neurology service on Ward H which soon attracted the first of a long line of ‘fellows’ for a year’s training in clinical neurology. In 1958, with the opening of what is now the Urquhart Wing, neurology maintained a separate teaching service on the 11th floor and with the retirement of Herbert Hyland in 1960 Richardson became head of the division of neurology and proceeded to establish the first comprehensive training programme in the subject in Canada, integrating most of the University of Toronto’s teaching hospitals; this served as a model for the integrated specialty teaching programmes in medicine at the University. The special role of neurology was recognized by the establishment of a chair and Ric Richardson became the first professor of neurology.

He retired from his university post in 1975 but remained clinically active until shortly before his death. He retained his appointment at the Toronto General Hospital where he was active as a consultant, on the courtesy staff, participating in rounds and maintaining an interest in the neurology programme. Characteristically, he took emeritus status as more than an honour and remained a thoughtful and honest adviser to his successor. He also continued as consultant to the Workmen’s Compensation Board of Ontario, pursuing his interest in industrial and medico-legal neurology.

Although Richardson’s major academic contribution was the development of the training programme in neurology, he wrote many clinical papers on a variety of subjects including post-traumatic syndromes, hypoglycaemia, aphasia, stroke and post anoxic myoclonus. He is best known for the delineation of the distinctive degenerative brain disease ‘progressive supranuclear palsy’ carried out with John Steele and Jerzy Olszewski.

He was elected to the membership of the American Neurological Association in 1947, and was a founding member of the Canadian Neurological Society - its first secretary-treasurer, and its President in 1954. In 1974 he was awarded honorary membership of the Association of British Neurologists and on his retirement he was honoured by former trainees who endowed a university lectureship in his name. When he retired four of his former trainees were directors of their own training programmes in Canada.

In his mid-forties Richardson took up golf, with the same dedication and care he gave to all he undertook, and became an accomplished player. It was his major recreation until close to retirement when he bought an island cottage on Lake Temagami and returned to an earlier pleasure in the lake country of Ontario.

J R Wherrett

[Canadian J. of Neurological Sciences, 1986,]

(Volume IX, page 445)

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