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Ryerson, Edward Stanley

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  • 1879-1963

Edward Stanley Ryerson was born in Toronto in 1879, the son of Charles Egerton (and grandson of Egerton) Ryerson. He was educated at the Toronto Model School and at Upper Canada College, prior to enrolling in Trinity Medical School from which he graduated in 1900.

Shortly thereafter he began a life-long association with the University of Toronto. In 1903, when Trinity Medical College was merged with the University of Toronto Medical College, his experience as an instructor in bacteriology at the former helped gain him an appointment as a demonstrator in anatomy in the new Faculty of Medicine. Five years later he became Assistant Secretary in the Faculty and, in 1918, following his return from active service in Europe and the retirement of Dr. Primrose, Secretary. In 1932, he was appointed both to the Senate of the University and to the position of Assistant Dean in the Faculty. He resigned as both Secretary and Assistant Dean in 1946, but stayed on as Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry until his retirement three years later.

In addition to his teaching and administrative load at the University, he practiced for many years as a surgeon at Toronto General Hospital. His work there began before the First World War, and he eventually rose to be head of one of its divisions, Ward B. From 1919 to 1931 he was also a surgeon at the veterans' hospital on Christie Street.

Dr. Ryerson's experience as a surgeon during the Great War lead to a growing interest in the relationship between the study of medicine and the general health of the population which, as medical checkups for enlistees demonstrated, was not very good. This new philosophy of health, which was given the name 'hygeialogy', led to the establishment of the Department of Physical and Health Education at the University of Toronto in 1940, the first in North America, with Ryerson as its head. A year later, when its status was raised to that of 'School', he was appointed its Director. By the time he stepped down in 1949, over 300 students were enrolled.

Dr. Ryerson had many honours bestowed on him for his pioneering work in the medical profession. In 1931 he became chairman of the committee on educational policies of the Association of American Medical Colleges, its most important sub-committee. He held the post until he was elected President of the Association in 1935. In 1937 a similar position was given him by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. He also served a term as president of the Medical Council of Canada, and was long a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Another important element in Dr Ryerson's life was military affairs. He served with the Queen's Own Rifles from 1896-1900; with No. 4 Field Hospital, Canadian Medical Army Corps until 1903; and with the Toronto Light Horse (later the Mississauga Horse) until 1908. When the Canadian Officer Training Corps was established at the University of Toronto, in 1914, he joined with the rank of Captain. He enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in April of 1915, with the rank of Major. He served with the No. 4 General Hospital (the University Hospital) at Salonika until January of 1917 when he received a medical discharge. In March he was appointed Director of medical services, No. 2 Military District, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He resigned his commission in November of 1918, to return to civilian life. During the Second World War he served with the medical corps, Royal Norwegian Air Force in Canada. He was awarded the Haakon VII Medal of Liberation for meritorious service.

Dr. Ryerson married Tessie Devigne of Montreal. They had 3 children - Stanley Brehaut Egerton, Donald Egerton, and Virginia. He died on March 28, 1963.

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