After honouring 99 men, McGill medical building recognizes pioneer Maude Abbott
Refused entry to McGill medical school because she was a woman, Abbott went on to work for the university
Ninety-nine plaques adorn the walls of McGill's Strathcona Medical Building with each honouring a person's contribution to the university and medicine, and they are all of men — until now.
Medical pioneer Maude Abbott is taking her rightful place among them.
"We thought it would be appropriate that Maude Abbott's name was finally put up on these walls where she had such an influence and where she spent much of her academic life," said Richard Fraser, the director of the Maude Abbott Medical Museum and the man who pushed to have Abbott honoured.
Over two decades, Abbott turned McGill's medical museum into one of the premiere medical education museums in North America.
But it's her research on congenital cardiac anomalies and the atlas she published on the topic that she is best known for.
See where medical pioneers are honoured at McGill University
Her work laid the foundation for surgery and treatment of the disease.
She also used her stature and experience to advocate for women's rights.
"She became the first woman faculty member of McGill to be allowed in the faculty club," Fraser said.
"The argument was that they didn't have bathrooms for women, I'm sure there were other reasons as well."
Plaques in Strathcona
Built in 1909, the original plans of the Strathcona building included 33 plaques per floor, 99 in all. Some pioneering men were honoured immediately, others came later.
It isn't known for sure, but Fraser believes the criteria to get a plaque was to have least been an associate professor or tenured professor.
"Maude Abbott was eventually named an assistant professor in 1925 after many, many, years at McGill," said Fraser.
"She never reached the level of associated professor, so that may be one of the reasons why her name was not put on a plaque."
Fraser took it upon himself to ensure Abbott was honoured.
Some Maude Abbott firsts
- One of the first women to graduate with arts degree at McGill.
- First woman faculty member to be admitted to McGill Faculty Club.
- Co-founder of International Association of Medical Museums.
- Co-founder of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada.
- Co-founder of the McGill University Club of Women.