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Royal Victoria Hospital (Montreal)

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Title: Royal Victoria Hospital (Montreal)  
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Subject: Norman Bethune, John McCrae, Scots-Quebecer, Allan Memorial Institute, Victoria Hospital, Quebec Route 112, Charles Meredith (banker), Irving M. Binik
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Royal Victoria Hospital (Montreal)

Royal Victoria Hospital
McGill University Health Centre
Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal
Location in Montreal
Location Montreal, Quebec, Canada

45°30′30″N 73°34′53″W / 45.50826°N 73.58145°W / 45.50826; -73.58145Coordinates: 45°30′30″N 73°34′53″W / 45.50826°N 73.58145°W / 45.50826; -73.58145

Care system
Hospital type Teaching
Affiliated university McGill University Faculty of Medicine
Emergency department Yes
Beds 517
Speciality General medicine, Surgery, Organ Transplantation
Founded 1893

The Royal Victoria Hospital or as it is popularly known, the "Royal Vic" or "The Vic", is a hospital affiliated with McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is located at 687 Pine Avenue on the slope of Mount Royal adjoining the university's campus in the borough of Ville-Marie. It has nine pavilions: Administrative (A), Centennial (C), Outpatient clinics (E), Women's (F), Hersey (H), Medical Labs (L), Medical (M), Surgical (S), and Ross (R). The A, E, and L pavilions form what was the original hospital and were designed by Henry Saxon Snell in the Scottish baronial style. The nearby Allan Memorial Institute houses the Psychiatry Department of the Hospital. From 2015, the hospital will be moved but the future of the Royal Vic building is unclear as no studies have yet been conducted for its reuse.


The Royal Victoria Hospital was established in 1893 in the historic Golden Square Mile through the financial donations of two public-spirited Scottish immigrants, the cousins Donald Smith, 1st Lord Strathcona, and George Stephen, 1st Lord Mount Stephen. In 1887, they announced a joint gift of C$1,000,000 for the construction of a free hospital in Montreal and purchased a site on Mount Royal for a further C$86,000.[1] The site they bought was the old Frothingham estate that covered ten acres of land.[2] During 1897 and 1898, Smith and Stephen gave another C$1,000,000 between them in Great Northern Railroad securities to establish an endowment fund to maintain the hospital.[3] Stephen and Smith attached one caveat to their generous contribution to the City of Montreal, stating that the hospital's land and its buildings must only ever be used for healing.[4]

The founders intended the Royal Vic to be a place of healing for all people: "to be for the use of the sick and ailing without distinction of race or creed," and when it opened its doors in 1893, it was hailed as the "finest and most perfectly equipped (hospital) on the great American continent".[5] The hospital originally had 150 employees, including 14 medical doctors.[6]

Over the years, the philanthropy and business acumen of many of the residents of the Golden Square Mile - the prominent members of Montreal's English speaking community - brought the hospital global recognition as a major centre of healthcare and learning. Among the many major contributors, they included: James Ross, Richard Angus, Sir Vincent Meredith and Sir Montague Allan.

In 1920, the hospital became a medical research institute through the McGill University Faculty of Medicine. In 1929, Dr. Wilder Penfield established the Montreal Neurological Institute adjacent to the hospital. Among the list of medical achievements at the Royal Victoria was the first successful organ transplant in the Commonwealth in 1958. It was achieved by a team led by nephrologist John Dossetor and surgeons Joe Luke and Ken MacKinnon. Today, the Royal Victoria Hospital is part of the McGill University Health Centre.


The hospital was designed by the Scottish architect Henry Saxon Snell, who from the 1860s had made a name for himself in England and Scotland as a leading specialist in the design of hospitals, particularly in London. Constructed of Montreal limestone, the Royal Vic is distinguished by its crenelated structures and romantic turrets framing generous sun porches at the corners of its imposing medical and surgical wards. Snell's aesthetic plans for the Royal Vic were inspired by the Scottish baronial style of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. From a medical perspective, his design of the Royal Vic was influenced by the ideas of Florence Nightingale as a Pavilion Hospital, in which the separation and isolation of both patients and diseases were thought to discourage the spread of infection.[7] The original part of the building was completed in 1893.

It was enlarged by the addition of new wings of the same architectural style. The H pavilion opened in 1905 as the nurses' residence (see below). The 1920s saw the addition of the Women's and Ross Memorial pavilions. Another expansion was completed in the early 1950s giving the hospital its M and S pavilions; a portion of the original hospital was demolished to accomplish this. Lastly the C pavilion, housing the emergency room, birthing centre, and a large modern ICU opened in 1993. A time capsule is located in the wall facing the C pavilion's elevators on the ground floor.

Hersey Pavilion

The Hersey Pavilion, also known as the H Pavilion was one of the first purpose-built nurses' residences in Canada. It is located on the hospital campus, and was constructed in 1905. It was designed by the well-known Montreal architects Edward & William Sutherland Maxwell. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1997 in recognition of the important role the building played in the training and professionalism of nurses in Canada.[8][9]


A little-known summertime gem is the hospital's outdoor pool and patio located between the Hersey pavilion and Allan Memorial Institute. It is open to the public and skinny dippers for a $5 entrance fee.[10]

New campus

The RVH is set to move to the Glen site as part of the redevelopment of the MUHC. The new hospital will be built as a public-private partnership (PPP). An open bidding process between two architectural consortia was completed in late 2009 with the selection of the winning bid. Construction began in 2010 and will be completed in 2015.

The post-2015 future of the Royal Vic building is unclear as no studies have yet been conducted for its reuse.

Notable Surgeons

See also


External links

  • Annmarie Adams, Medicine by Design: The Architect and the Modern Hospital, 1893-1943. University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
  • Photograph: Aerial View of the Royal Victoria Hospital circa 1925. McCord Museum
  • Photograph: Royal Victoria Hospital circa 1918. McCord Museum
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