Lives of the fellows

Edward Francis Brooks

b.13 July 1904 d.21 February 1970
MD Toronto(1928) MRCP(1931) FRCPC(1948) FRCP(1956)

Edward Brooks was born in Toronto in 1904. Educated in the schools there and at the University of Toronto, he graduated in Medicine in 1928. The important first years of graduate education were spent at St. Michael’s Hospital where, in advancing to Chief Resident in Medicine, he acquired wide clinical experience and absorbed ideals of service and responsibility which were to mark his career. During a stimulating year in London he was admitted to membership in the College, widened his knowledge especially in neurology, and gained lasting insights into London teaching. On return to Canada he held an appointment for a year at the Toronto General Hospital studying with the neurologists and assisting in teaching.

Appointments to the attending staff of St. Michael’s Hospital and to the Department of Medicine of the University came in 1932 and he entered practice in internal medicine with a special interest in neurology.

His personal qualities, along with competent and kind discharge of his clinical responsibilities, quickly attracted the confidence of colleagues and the trust of patients. Obligations to students were met with care and understanding of both their needs and the ways to animate the acquisition of sound clinical practices.

The busy professional and teaching career which developed did not shut out involvement in the life of the community, and this brought many acquaintances and friendships which fostered his understanding of people and events.

In 1949, he was appointed Physician in Chief of the Hospital, elected Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board, joined the Board of Directors and shortly advanced in University rank to Professor in the Department of Medicine. This was at a time of impending change in the Toronto teaching hospitals and the Medical School. All had the usual difficult problems in planning and, as a down-town hospital, St. Michael’s had perhaps the most vexing. The inclusion of Edward Brooks in the discussions proved wonderfully useful. Administrative responsibilities did not lessen his interest in patients and teaching, and this was important for the successful development of his department and in attracting suitable staff. He even accepted additional responsibilities for the Gairdner Foundation Committee, which selects outstanding discoverers in medicine from all over the world for the awards made each year. He also served several periods as a Fellowship examiner for the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, and his even temperament and fair mindedness made his assessments well known.

When incurable illness struck in 1969 he resigned as physician-inchief and from all administrative appointments, but continued courageously with clinical work and special teaching assignments to the end, a few months later.

Throughout his outstanding career he had the benefits of a happy home, the understanding support of his wife, Isobel, and joy in their eight children.

In 1956, he had been elected to Fellowship in the College and in 1957 came the highest honours for laymen in his Church - the Papal Orders of Knight of the Holy Sepulchre and Knight of St. Gregory the Great.

After his death, in his honour, and as part of the University of Toronto Sesquicentennial Celebrations, the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Department of Medicine of St. Michael’s Hospital established the Edward F. Brooks Memorial Lectureship.

Ian Macdonald

(Volume VI, page 68)

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