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Biographical entry Gallie, William Edward (1882 - 1959)

MRCS and FRCS 12 December 1918; MD Toronto 1903; ScD; FRCS Canada; Hon FRCS Ed 1955; FACS.

Barrie, Ontario, Canada
25 September 1959
Toronto, Canada
General surgeon


Born 1882 at Barrie, Ontario, of pioneer Scottish parents, he was educated at Barrie Grammar School where he did well at work and games. In 1899 he entered the medical faculty of the University of Toronto, from which he graduated with honours in 1903, the youngest member of his class. He played hockey for the University and later coached the team for five years. After house appointments in the Toronto General Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children, he went to New York to work under Royal Whitman at the Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled, to which he was appointed honorary surgeon-in-chief thirty years later. He then came to England.

On his return to Canada in 1906 he was appointed surgeon to the Toronto General Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children. When the two hospitals separated in 1919 he remained at the Hospital for Sick Children; when his chief Clarence Starr was appointed Professor of Surgery in the Faculty of Medicine, he became surgeon-in-chief at the age of 39. In 1929 he succeeded Starr as Professor of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at the Toronto General Hospital, was Dean of the Faculty 1936-46, and retired as Emeritus Professor.

He was elected President of the American College of Surgeons in 1941, holding office for six years. He was president of the American Orthopaedic Association, a Fellow of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. He was a founding Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, and was admitted an Honorary Fellow of the Edinburgh College in company with HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. At the College he was a Hunterian Professor in 1924, the first Canadian appointed, and Moynihan lecturer and honorary medallist in 1947.

He published a paper with D E Robinson on the repair of bone in 1919 and in 1921 one on fascial grafting, with LeMesurier, which led to general adoption of the Gallie operation for hernia.

"Ed" Gallie was a big man both physically and intellectually, who deeply influenced the development of surgery in Canada. He considered that the Royal College of Surgeons and the American College neglected postgraduate training; when he became Professor of Surgery he inaugurated a co-ordinated training programme for young surgeons in Canada, establishing higher surgical training in Canada on a firm basis. His work is commemorated in the Gallie Club, founded by his old students and "devoted galley slaves". He was a visionary with the ability and drive to implement his vision and to become and remain a benevolent dictator with a great sense of humour and an innate kindliness. He collected round himself men of ability such as Gordon Murray working on heparin, Norman Shenstone a pioneer thoracic surgeon, Roscoe Graham, Eddie Robertson and Harold Wookey, thus making Toronto one of the finest surgical centres.

When too old for hockey, he became an ardent golfer and later an equally ardent fisherman. The Gallie Club entertained him at the College on his seventy-fifth birthday, 11 June 1957.

He married Janet Louise Hardy by whom he had a daughter and two sons, both in the medical profession. He died on 25 September 1959 in the Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto and among the great gathering at his funeral were fifty-two members of the Gallie Club.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit J Surg 1947, 35, 101-104; J Bone Jt Surg 1957, 39 B, 435 with portrait, and 1959, 41 B, 849 appreciation by F P Dewar; Brit med J 1959,2 698 appreciations by Sir G Gordon-Taylor and JCS, and p 891 by AST; The Times 6 October 1959 p 13 by Sir G Gordon-Taylor; Lancet 1959, 2, 570 appreciation by CMP].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England