Growing Apace in Peace: Post-War Period Spells Prosperity
The post-war period was one of prosperity for the Faculty of Dentistry, which was thriving with the return of many students and professors.
The end of the war saw the Faculty growing. Class sizes were in the high 30s to low 40s for the next ten years. The class of 1950, for example, had callow youngsters like Ernie Ambrose and hardened veterans like Coleman Gertler.
By 1948, there were three permanent teachers on staff. Besides Dr. Leahy in the clinic, Dr. D.P. Mowry became the Faculty’s first full-time Dean and Dr. James McCutcheon became a full-time teacher of prosthodontics. Former teachers came flooding back as well, adding their experience and new skills to the educational mix.
In 1953, Roberta Dundass, DDS 1947, became the first woman teacher in the Faculty. She taught and later became Head of the department of Pedodontics. She and her two brothers were all McGill dentistry graduates. They practiced together in Westmount and eventually all taught at the Faculty as well.
A new clinic at the MGH
Dr. Mowry worked out a new contract between the Faculty and the Montreal General Hospital in 1953 and made preparations for the dentistry clinic to move up the hill to the hospital’s new location. Plans got underway to celebrate Dentistry’s 50th anniversary at McGill. Things were looking good. Then the Dean became very ill. In fact, he was one of the patients transferred up the hill from the old Montreal General to the new hospital building. He died before he could see the new clinic he had worked so hard to create.
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.
The Facutly’s First Full-time Researcher
Dr. Lyman E. Francis didn’t start off his working life as a dentist. He toured the continent as a successful vaudeville acrobat before he graduated with a DDS from McGill in 1949. Then, while running a general practice in Westmount, he went back to McGill and got his MSc. in pharmacology in 1958. That was the year he was appointed assistant professor in dentistry and in medicine and associate dental surgeon at the Montreal General Hospital.
Frost says he was the first permanent member of the Faculty to be appointed “on the understanding that he would devote a considerable part of his time to dental research. He went on to publish some 36 papers in Canadian and international journals and to play a major role in the encouragement of dental research in Canada.”
He also became an accomplished artist. A large collection of his watercolors and sculptures were donated to the Faculty by his widow. A colorful, cubist-style watercolor of a covered bridge in autumn hangs in an office behind the first-floor student laboratories in the Strathcona Building.