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Early Years

Postwar Period


MGH Today


Early Years



Since the mid-nineties, the MGH has entered an era of increasingly specialized, high-tech, high-touch care, indicative of its role in the McGill university hospital network.

By the turn of the new millennium, hospitals had become more technologically-dependent than ever before. Like other hospitals, the MGH had to plan extensively around the Y2K-based threat of global systems failure. Montreal’s economy had shifted from an industrial centre to a technological and cultural hub with a thriving tourist industry, while the province balanced cutbacks with legislation that brought pharmacare and affordable childcare to the population.

Respiratory Therapists in the ICU of the Montreal General Hospital, 2020. Photographed by Michael Cichon. Courtesy of the Medical Multimedia Department of the MUHC.

graphic showing merger of 5 hospitals

Though the merger presupposed the eventual consolidation of physical sites into a single superhospital, by the time detailed plans were developed for the Glen site it was thought that the MGH would better serve the population as a complementary site, easing pressures on the city’s emergency rooms (Source: Soins, enseignement, recherche au coeur de la cite: Rapport de la Commission d’analyse des projets d’implantation du Centre hospitalier de l”universite de Montreal et du Centre universitaire de sante McGill)

Designed by Linda Jackson

The healthcare sector saw the creation of nineteen integrated networks across the province and the designation of four academic health-science centres. The McGill University Health Centre was formed in 1997 through the merger of five institutions, of which the MGH was the oldest. These academic centres were to play a clearly defined role in the healthcare system, providing ultra-specialized care, groundbreaking research, and education for future healthcare professionals.

COVID-19 at the MGH

kinesiologist in the perioperative program

PPE Portraits are a hybrid art and medical intervention designed to improve patient care and team dynamics by humanizing the alienating appearance of PPE with the use of warm and smiling headshots.

Geneviève Lambert, kinesiologist, MGH Peri-Operative Program, wearing a PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) portrait, 2021. Photo by Laura Rendon and Geneviève Lambert.

When the 1918 Influenza pandemic arrived in Montreal, the MGH was already nearing its one hundredth birthday. At the time, the hospital responded to the city’s infection surges, despite severe staff shortages caused by the World War One and exacerbated by the pandemic. The MGH also consulted on the opening of a temporary hospital near the port to treat soldiers returning home.

Left: Page from La Presse, showing an influenza-related advisory poster from the Montreal Health Board, 11 October 1918. BAnQ; Right: COVID-19 poster published by the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, July 2020

One hundred years later, the MGH is again living through historic times, along with the rest of the world. While the 1918 Influenza initially spread between continents with flows of military traffic, today’s COVID-19 has largely spread globally through air travel in an increasingly connected, cosmopolitan world. Both in 1918 and today, the city resorted to masks, distancing, and shutdowns of public gathering spaces to slow transmission of the disease. While it took decades for the world to develop an influenza vaccine, next-generation vaccine platforms have made it possible to develop effective vaccines for COVID-19 in under a year, using nucleic acid-based (RNA) methods.


Kenneth Drummond, kinesiologist, with a patient in the MGH Peri-Operative Program, wearing a PPE portrait, 2021. Photo by Laura Rendon and Geneviève Lambert.

Anh Thy Le Quang, kinesiologist, MGH Peri-Operative Program, wearing a PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) portrait, 2021. Photo by Laura Rendon and Geneviève Lambert.

Appreciation for MGH Nurses, 2020. Courtesy the Montreal General Hospital Foundation

As was the case in 1918, health care workers have been tireless in their effort to treat and limit the spread of COVID-19, providing humane care and setting an example for the rest of society. Their service to the community during this crisis marks another heroic chapter in the hospital’s history.

Code Life Ventilator Challenge

Recently, the MGH Foundation teamed up with the MUHC Research Institute to launch the Code Life Ventilator Challenge. Against the backdrop of a looming ventilator shortage due to rising cases of COVID-19, they launched an international contest that called on designers to develop prototypes for ventilators that could be easily and cheaply produced. The response was overwhelming: over one thousand applicant teams from all over the world entered the contest. The Ventilator Challenge also acts as a bridge between designers and manufacturers, and has raised extra funds to work with companies to help with production and maintenance.

Out of three finalists, Montreal robotics company Haply won the design contest for their easy-to-source design utilizing 3D printers.

More to Come...

Team in the Trauma Bay, MGH, 2020. Courtesy of the Montreal General Hospital Foundation

Program for two fundraising plays organized for the MGH, 1901. Courtesy the Archives of the Alumnae Association of the Montreal General Hospital School of Nursing

Highlighting Clinical Excellence

As part of a key academic centre serving Montreal and greater Quebec, the MGH brings its long history of clinical inquisitiveness, boundary-pushing research, collegiality and mentorship to the MUHC and is responsible for providing highly specialized care, such as trauma and emergency medicine, orthopedics, mental health & emergency psychiatric services, cutting edge treatment for complex thoracic cancers, allergy & immunology care, geriatrics and more.

Stay in touch for features on our current clinical activities at the MGH.

Highlighting Two Hundred Years of Community Support

Through the financial challenges and organizational changes of the first two decades of the twenty-first century, community support through philanthropy in its many forms has allowed the MGH to continue its work providing care to the citizens of Montreal and beyond. Longstanding major donors such as the Molson Foundation, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Jarislowsky Foundation, Angus Family, Birks Family, Desmarais Family, Satoko and Richard Ingram Family, R. Howard Webster Foundation, Aune Foundation, and Hewitt Foundation, along with over eighty thousand generous donors, have stepped up over the years to express their confidence in the people who make up the MGH and continue to provide compassionate care and clinically driven research to the community – a task all the more essential in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More stories to come! Meanwhile we invite you to visit the MGH Foundation’s website for an overview of their ongoing vital support for vital care.

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