Lives of the fellows

Louis Cherniack

b.23 November 1908 d.28 September 1982
MD Manitoba(1932) BSc Med(1935) MRCP(1936) FRCPC(1947) FACP(1950) FRCP(1970)

Louis Cherniack was born in Winnipeg, Canada, where his father Nathan Cherniack was a jeweller. He received his early education in Canora, Saskachewan, and his medical training at the University of Manitoba. Following graduation he completed the internship and residency programmes in the department of medicine at the Winnipeg General Hospital In 1934 he was appointed assistant physician to the Central Tuberculosis Clinic of the Manitoba Sanatorium Board. At this time the death rate from tuberculosis in the province of Manitoba was 55/100,000 and it was here that he learned and carefully honed the skills that were to make him such an outstanding diagnostician and clinical teacher. Later he put this experience to good use when he provided the major clinical input to the book Respiration in health and disease, Philadelphia, W B Saunders Co, 1961, which he co-authored with his brother Reuben. A second edition, revised, was brought out in 1972.

In the mid-1930s postgraduate studies meant leaving the prairies for London and in 1936 Louis Cherniack took off, having accepted a position as medical registrar at the Royal Chest Hospital. His years in London were the start of a continuing love affair with that city and he would visit it at every possible opportunity for the rest of his life. He was there at the outbreak of war in 1939 and he served in the Emergency Medical Service until 1941, when he was commissioned in the RAMC. As a medical specialist he served in the Middle East, retiring in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Back in Winnipeg he was appointed as a specialist in respiratory medicine to the Winnipeg Clinic, and assistant physician at the Winnipeg General Hospital. In 1967 he left the Clinic to accept the position of associate director of the D A Stewart Centre for the Study and Treatment of Respiratory Diseases, with the accompanying rank of associate professor m the faculty of medicine. He held these positions until his retirement in 1976.

Outside his professional life, Louis was a very private person. He never married and his bachelor apartment, with its enviable collection of prints and rare books picked up on his frequent visits to London, provided the perfect milieu for a quiet, cultured and scholarly man. His support of the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be remembered by the many artists he helped. For many years he served the ballet company as ‘honorary’ physician.

Louis Cherniack had hoped that upon retirement he would return to London, establish a small consultant practice, and enjoy the city he loved so well. It was not to be. The government of the day had changed the rules about immigration and work-permits for citizens of the old Dominions. So, despite his years of service in the British Army, his request for permanent residence in Britain was denied. His last few years were spent in Winnipeg interspersed, of course, by the visits to London that he found so necessary to refresh his cultural soul.

D H Bowden

(Volume IX, page 81)

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