News at Medicine - November 2015 - Commemorating the legacy of a medical pioneer

Commemorating the legacy of a medical pioneer
November 2, 2015
The Faculty of Medicine will celebrate Commemorating our Legacy, a symposium reflecting on Dr. Cluny Macpherson, Newfoundland medical doctor and inventor of the first gas mask in the First World War, on Monday, Nov. 9. 
The full-day event will feature a range of speakers who will deliver talks on Dr. Macpherson and the many medical military contributions the province has made through the years. 

“Dr. Macpherson is truly a pioneer in Newfoundland medical history,” said Dr. James Rourke, dean, Faculty of medicine. “Not only did his invention impact the lives of thousands, it changed the way the Great War was fought.”

Presentations throughout the day will focus on various aspects of war, from the use of the gas mask in the First World War to a glimpse of modern-day medicine from a Faculty of Medicine alumnus currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.

“We have professors, archivists, physicians and a former lieutenant-governor all speaking at the symposium,” said Stephanie Harlick, archivist, Faculty of Medicine Founders’ Archive. “The assortment of discussions is sure to interest a variety of people.”

The plenary speaker of the day, Andrew Robertshaw, is a military historian, broadcaster and educator from the United Kingdom and is well known for his work on combining archaeological techniques with archival research to show what life was like on the frontlines of the battlefields. His talk will discuss the gases used during the First World War and the impact Dr. Macpherson made on the Great War.

The Faculty of Medicine also recently acquired an original gas mask from the First World War, which will be unveiled during the symposium and will be on permanent display.

“Having one of Cluny Macpherson’s original gas masks on permanent display in the Faculty of Medicine is something we are very excited about,” said Ms. Harlick. “It is a piece of history that will live on in the Medical Education Centre for years to come; a reminder of the dedication of the people of our province to the world. I think Cluny summed it up when he wrote, ‘We… belong to a profession which does not register nor patent its discoveries but gives them freely in the cause of humanity.’”

Commemorating our Legacy takes place on Monday, Nov. 9, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Registration is complimentary but required by Wednesday, Nov. 4. Register at or (709) 777-6208. For more information please visit