For thousands of graduates from the Faculty of Medicine, Gertrude Mudge’s presence as the Faculty’s assistant secretary helped make their McGill experience more meaningful.
Mudge was born in 1886 to a middle-class family with four older siblings. Upon her father’s death in 1910, when she was no longer needed to help care for him, she decided to seek an independent career of her own. The choice was a brave one––at the time, rejecting marriage and seeking a career was not the usual choice for a young woman and she was rebuffed by some of her friends.
Mudge began her career doing secretarial work for local firms in Montreal, eventually ending up at McGill in 1915, where she held multiple roles before she joined the Faculty of Medicine in 1923. While her office work was impressive, her most recognized quality was her empathy and care for students. One graduate recalled, “My student days at McGill were the happiest of my life. This was due, in no small part, to association with such wonderful persons as Miss Mudge” (as quoted in Hanlan, “Getrude Mudge 1886-1858″, Fontannus, Vol. 7, 1995, p. 55).
When “Mudgy” (as she was known to students) retired in 1953, the medical students held a ball in her honour to wish her farewell. Upon her retirement, she embarked on an international journey to visit as many of the graduates as she could. In 1955 she received an honorary Master of Arts degree from McGill. She died in Montreal in 1958.