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2019 Issue 3

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Flashback to 1947: Queen's cancer clinic opens

Flashback to 1947: Queen's cancer clinic opens

[Dr. R. C. Burr, Med. '32]
From the Queen's Alumni Review archives

Dr. R. C. Burr, Med. '32

[cover image]Cancer Clinic Officially Opened

Dr. R. C. Burr heads staff

April, 1947

OFFICIAL opening of the first fully equipped cancer clinic in Ontario was conducted by Hon. Russell T. Kelley, Ontario Minister of Health, on Saturday afternoon, March 29. The new pilot clinic, which is on the ground floor of the recently built Victory Wing of the Kingston General Hospital, is under the direction of Dr. R. C. Burr, Med. '32, who heads a staff composed of professors and associate professors of Queen's, each of whom is a specialist in the branches of medicine and surgery connected with cancer.

The opening exercises were held in the Nurses' Home, where Hon. Mr. Kelley spoke before a capacity audience, after being introduced by Dr. H. A. Stewart, M.L.A. for Kingston.

"The government of the province," he said, ''has been conscious of the need for providing costly methods of diagnosis and treatment for cancer for those who were unable to secure it. This consciousness was further evidenced in 1943 when the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation was established. At that time an appropriation of $500,000 was made by the government to the carrying out of such a programme. During the last three years the government has continued to make annual grants of approximately $90,000 to the seven previously established clinics. At the time the Foundation came into being, it was not thought that the funds of the organization should be drawn solely from government sources.

"The Foundation was encouraged to seek public assistance. Such an appeal was made about a year ago, and the response was good: about $1,500,000 was collected. Some $125,000 has been given to research and an agreement has been entered into with the Kingston General Hospital to develop what must be considered an experimental approach. Similar agreements are pending with hospital board in other strategic centres.

The Cancer Clinic, he concluded, was stepping up its public education programme and was working in the closest possible collaboration with the Foundation.

The cost of the clinic borne by the Provincial Government, the Ontario Cancer Foundation and the University, was $125,000 for buildings and equipment and 590 milligrams of radium worth $30 per milligram. The radium was a gift of the Ontario Health Department.

The clinic is equipped with two X-ray machines, one of 200,000 volts and the other 400 000 volts, both in lead-lined rooms the doors of which weigh 600 pounds each. Thirty to forty patients can be treated by the machines daily, while the clinic can handle nearly seventy persons a day.

Prior to the official opening, hundreds of visitors crowded into the clinic to inspect accommodation and equipment.

Arthur R. Ford, chairman of the Ontario Cancer Foundation, presided at the opening exercises. Mr. Ford, who is also Chancellor of the University of Western Ontario and editor-in-chief of the London Free Press, said that the clinic was the first of its kind, not only operated by the Foundation itself, but "as far as I know, in Canada or the United States. If it is a success as a model clinic, further clinics will be established in the leading centres of the province."

Principal R. C. Wallace spoke of the therapeutic value and of the stimulation and encouragement to research that the opening of the clinic represented. Dean G.S. Melvin pledged the utmost support of the Medical faculty. Others who spoke briefly were Col. T. A. Kidd, M.P. for Kingston, Prof. Grant Crawford, president of the Kingston unit of the Ontario branch of the Canadian Cancer Society, and R. Fraser Armstrong, superintendent of Kingston General Hospital. Rev. Father J. P. Sullivan, representing Hotel Dieu, blessed the opening, and invocation was offered by Rev. H. B. Clarke, president of the Kingston Ministerial Association. Guests on the main platform included Dr. G. E. Richards, managing director of the Foundation, and Senator W. Rupert Davies.

Following the programme, tea was served in the Nurses' Home.

[cover of Alumni Review 2016 Issue 3]