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Gallie, William Edward
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Dr. William Edward Gallie (1882-1959) was a pioneering orthopedic surgeon and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He was born on January 29, 1882 in Barrie, Ontario to William Gallie, a building contractor and mill operator, and Anne Gray. Gallie graduated from Barrie High School in 1899. Finding the work of his father uninspiring, Gallie entered the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto at the age of 17. Gallie graduated in the spring of 1903, and immediately began work as an intern at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (1903-1904). Gallie spent the next several years interning at the Toronto General Hospital (1904-1905) before moving to New York’s Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled (1905-1906).
Upon completion of his internship in New York, Gallie returned to Toronto and gained employment at the Hospital for Sick Children. Concurrently, Gallie was appointed junior surgeon at the Toronto General Hospital, a position he held until 1910 when he shifted his focus solely to the Hospital for Sick Children and became an assistant to the Chief of Orthopaedic Service, Dr. C.L. Starr. Starr taught Gallie as a pupil at the University of Toronto, supervised him through his initial internship at the Hospital for Sick Children, and would become Gallie’s mentor as a young surgeon at the Hospital.
From 1906-1910, Gallie developed a strong research interest in the surgical correction of paralysis. A proponent of animal experimentation to improve surgical techniques, Gallie developed a method of tendon fixation to stabilize paralytic feet and began publishing papers on the topic, bringing him a great deal of recognition amongst his peers.
In 1914, Gallie married Janet Louise Hart with whom he had 3 children; Alan Edward, Marion Louise, and Hugh Richmond.
The outbreak of the First World War saw the departure of many Canadian doctors as they joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force overseas. Gallie’s fellow surgeons at the Hospital for Sick Children, Dr. Starr, Dr. D.E. Robertson, and Dr. B. Robertson all joined the war effort. Gallie remained the lone surgeon at the hospital until 1917, when he replaced Starr in England at the Canadian Special Treatment Hospital. While serving for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Gallie graduated to the rank of Major (Act.) before the end of the war.
When Gallie returned to Canada, he became the Surgeon-in-Chief at the Hospital for Sick Children, a post he held until 1929. During his time at the helm of the Hospital for Sick Children, Gallie began some of his most famous surgical experiments, publishing papers on the transplantation of fascia into tendons, and applying the method to the treatment of hernias and to the repair of anatomical defects.
In 1929, Gallie replaced Dr. Starr as the Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto. Gallie was also appointed Surgeon-in-Chief of the Toronto General Hospital, a position he held until 1936 when he became Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. During his time at the U of T, Gallie established a training regimen for medical students that qualified them to become part of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. This move helped bring medical training in Canada on par with the courses in England and the United States. When the Second World War broke out, Gallie helped to establish a program for Canadian military surgeons to return home for 6 month periods in order to share their experiences with their University. Gallie also served as the President of the American College of Surgeons from 1941-1946.
Gallie formally retired from his position at the University of Toronto in 1947, but continued to aid the medical profession by delivering lectures, addresses, and establishing scholarships and trust funds for medical students.
William Edward Gallie died on September 25, 1959 at the age of 77.
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The majority of the biographical information found on W.E. Gallie is taken from a eulogy written by R. I. Harris, which can be found in B2013-0001/008(21)