Some members of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine/ La Société canadienne d’histoire de la médecine (CSHM/SCHM) may not know that our organization began at Université Laval as a Francophone society. In October 1950, abbé Arthur Maheux of the Institut d’Histoire et de Géographie invited fourteen people – including physicians, historians, and archivists – to form the original Society.
Dr. Sylvio Leblond, our first president and an internist and instructor of medical history at Laval, wrote two histories of the Society to mark its tenth and twenty-fifth anniversaries. In 2000, longstanding CSHM/SCHM members Jacalyn Duffin and Paul Potter wrote an updated history of the Society, tracing the evolution from an informal local group to a national incorporated society meeting yearly as part of the Learned Societies (now the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences). Their text also covers the growing support that the Society received from the Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine (under Associated Medical Services), and the beginning of a 1979 Newsletter that eventually became our academic journal.
Duffin and Potter close their 2000 piece with a challenge to the CSHM/SCHM membership to reengage with the exuberance and fresh inquiry of the Society’s early years in Québec. Has the collegiality and scholarship of CSHM/SCHM over the last twenty-plus years reached this level? Certainly something to discuss at the beer tent during the next Congress.