Lives of the fellows

George Donald West Cameron

b.10 September 1899 d.1983
MD CM Queen’s(1927) DPH(1928) Hon LLD Queen’s(1951) Hon LLD Manitoba(1956) FRCP(1959)

George Donald West Cameron was deputy minister of national health and welfare, Canada. He was born in Omemee, Ontario, the son of George Stewart Cameron, a physician, and Leonore ‘Norah’ Anna Cameron née West, the daughter of a manufacturer. Both of his parents died in 1911, when he was still a young child. Cameron was educated at Lakefield School, Ontario, and then the Royal Military College of Canada.

In January 1918 he was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery and served in England, France and Belgium until 1919, attaining the rank of second lieutenant.

After the war, he attended Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, and gained an MD and a masters degree in surgery. He went on to study public health at the University of Toronto.

In 1931 Cameron became responsible for duties related to the production and testing of serums and diphtheria toxoid at the farm section of the Connaught medical research laboratories, University of Toronto, where he worked under John Gerald FitzGerald.

In 1939 Cameron was appointed as chief of the laboratory of hygiene in the department of pensions and national health. Five years later, he became director of health services. In 1946 he was made deputy minister of national health and welfare and served until his retirement in 1965. He represented Canada as chief delegate to the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization on numerous occasions.

During the Second World War, Cameron travelled to the UK and, as he stated on his biographical details form, which he completed at the time of his election to the fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 1959: ‘Participated in a meeting in Burlington House under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Dale [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.130] in 1944 to establish the unit for Penicillin.’

Cameron was president of the Canadian Public Health Association and received the first R D Defries award of the association in 1966 for his lifetime of service, as well as honorary life membership. In 1954 he was made a commander brother of St John Ambulance.

Outside medicine, he was interested in boating, especially canoeing, carpentry, wood carving and ‘a bit of gardening’. He also liked books, especially travel and geography.

In November 1928 he married Margaret Vansittart Livingstone, the daughter of a judge. They had one son and one daughter.

RCP editor

[Toronto Globe and Mail 29 May 1959; CPHA Canada’s Public Health Leader Profiles in Public Health: George Donald West Cameron – accessed 12 October 2016; Ancestry George Donald West Cameron – accessed 12 October 2016]

(Volume XII, page web)

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