Baltzan, David Mortimer (1897– 1983)

Left to right: Marc Baltzan, Dick Baltzan, David Baltzan, and Don Baltzan, June 1959.
Regina Leader-Post

Baltzan was born on May 10, 1897, in Bessarabia, a province of Tsarist Russia, now Moldova, and came to Canada with his parents in 1905. David’s father started up the Saskatchewan Hide and Fur Company in Saskatoon. David excelled at school, and was the first in his family to become a doctor. He graduated from McGill University in 1920, completed his practical experience in New York, and then studied internal medicine in Edinburgh, London, Vienna and, finally, at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. He eventually chose Saskatoon as the site for his ground-breaking practice, fired by the need for modern innovations in internal medicine. Against all advice he eschewed surgery, which was making others rich, to invest in a portable electrocardiograph (ECG) and an X-ray machine for his office.

In spite of predictions that he could not succeed, he created the Baltzan clinic, enticed his three sons to join him, and stayed active for fifty years. David Baltzan was in the top ranks of medicine in Canada. Among other contributions, he was a member of the Hall Commission, which created the blueprint for public health care in Canada. He died in Saskatoon on June 15, 1983.

Verne Clemence


Further Reading

Clemence, V. 1995. David M. Baltzan, Prairie Doctor. Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside.