Celebrating a Century in the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences

From humble beginning as a department within the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences has become one of the leading dental schools in Canada. For over a century, the Faculty of Dentistry has built a legacy of excellence, dedication to communities in need, and innovation in the health sciences.

1892 - 1904

Photo collage

From Humble Beginnings

Before the Faculty of Dentistry at McGill, there was the Dental College of the Province of Quebec: the second dental school in all of Canada, and its first bilingual institution. Under the deanship of W.G. Beers, who saw his vision for a Quebec dental school to fruition, the Dental College of the Province of Quebec would ultimately lead to the formation of dental schools at both McGill University and the Université de Montréal.

1904 - 1920

The Early Years at McGill

In 1904, McGill absorbed Bishop’s department of dentistry, establishing a dental program in the Faculty of Medicine. McGill awarded its first Master’s Dental Surgery degrees in 1908 before adopting a new degree path, the Doctor of Dental Science, that same year. The new department of Dentistry in the Faculty of Medicine was headquartered in the Strathcona Medical Building, built in 1909, and established a dental clinic in the Montreal General Hospital during this time.

1914 - 1918

McGill Dentists Serve during the Great War

The first Canadian dentists to go overseas in the first World War were with a unit called No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill), which was organized entirely within McGill University in early 1915. Among them was L.H. Thornton, son of Dean Thornton, who interrupted his dental studies to join the war effort.


Dentistry becomes a Faculty

On October 4, 1919, at a meeting of the Faculty of Medicine, chairman of the Dental Executive A.W. Thornton raised the question of establishing a separate Faculty of Dentistry. As of January 26, 1920, the motion was ratified, and that day marks the creation of the McGill Faculty of Dentistry. A.W. Thornton would assume the first deanship of the Faculty of Dentistry, as it was his vision that helped make it reality.


The First woman admitted to Dentistry

In 1922 another significant event took place in the Faculty of Dentistry: it admitted its first woman student, which was not possible until 1918 due to the Faculty of Medicine policy the department was previously bound to. Florence Johnston, the Faculty’s first female student, was a Montrealer who graduated in 1926 and practiced general dentistry in Montreal for many years before dedicating her practice in pediatric dentistry.

1939 - 1945

McGill Dentists support Second World War Effort

The 1939-1945 conflict involved many McGill dentists—both graduates and students—some of whom helped create a mobile dental clinic in 1941. The war years also brought great hardships to members of the Faculty as so many instructors were overseas. When the war ended, the school had survived the absence of many of its instructors because of the unselfish effort of the few who had remained on the staff.

1945 - 1955

Growing Apace in Peace

In time for the faculty’s 50th birthday celebrations, a state-of-the-art teaching clinic opened in 1955 at the new Montreal General Hospital building, now located on the slopes of Mount Royal. Not long after, in 1958, Dr. Lyman Francis became the faculty’s first full-time researcher. The colourful Dr. Francis had a successful career as a vaudeville acrobat before graduating from McGill as a dentist and obtaining his MSc in Pharmacology.

1968 - 1977

The Ambrose Years

Dr. Ambrose’s deanship was a progressive one. Not only did he increase the number of teachers, but he was also able to expand and modernize clinical facilities. The expansion came in 1972 when the Montreal General Hospital made an entire section available to the Dental Department. The expansion of Department of Oral Surgery, and major update to the Undergraduate Teaching Clinic facilities helped establish a new vision for the Faculty of Dentistry.

1991 - 1995

A turning point for the Faculty

In 1991, McGill University announced that it would be shutting down its faculty of dentistry. While no one doubted the quality of education provided by the faculty, it only held a few active researchers, and the university was asserting itself as a research-intensive institution. The fate of the Faculty ultimately rested in the hands of dedicated faculty, staff, and students.

1995 - 2014

A period of great growth

The period immediately following the threat of closure was one of great growth for the Faculty. Under the leadership of Dean James Lund, the Faculty made greater investments in dental research and community initiatives, including an innovative service to the community program. During these years, the Faculty of Dentistry would cement its reputation as a research powerhouse among dental schools around the world and a leading institution setting the example for community outreach.


A new facility to launch the next era in the Faculty of Dentistry

In 2014, the Faculty moved to its new headquarters. For the first time in the Faculty's history, all training and community-based research and administrative operations are under one roof. Operating at this central location in the heart of Montreal and just steps from the Roddick Gates, this new location is not only easily accessible for patients through public transport, but also increases the Faculty's ability to continue carrying out its vital mission, combining academic excellence and community service.


A landmark award to recognize our vision

In 2018, the Faculty received the Gies Award for Vision, which recognizes institutions articulating the pursuit of contemporary ideas or a set of ideals, perspectives or solutions to create broader meaning for the dental profession and effectively bridge the present with the future of oral health. With its world-leading service to the community program and outreach activities, the McGill Faculty of Dentistry maintains an ambitious vision for the future of dental science.

2020 - 2025

Our vision for the future of dental science

More than a century since our founding, our vision for dentistry has endured. But what comes next is even more important. We want to bring our Faculty to its full potential and help shape the future of dentistry for the better. By making sustainable investments in the technological paradigms of tomorrow to train future-ready students. By empowering our service to the community champions. And by boosting research for innovation in the dental sciences for years to come.


New Faculty name for next century of Dentistry

The Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences is committed to helping all dental patients through interdisciplinary health research