MacLeod, Wendell (1905–2001)

J. Wendell MacLeod (right) and Tommy Douglas, June 1961.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A5724

J. Wendell Macleod was born in Kingsbury, Ontario, on March 2, 1905, and spent his formative years in that general area. In 1929, he graduated from McGill, winning the Holmes gold medal, the first of many awards. After specialty training in gastro-enterology, he practised in Montreal.

The war years were spent as a naval officer in Halifax. From 1945 to 1952, he practised internal medicine in Winnipeg. But change was imminent, in both his career and his profession. During the post-war years, a new perspective on patient care was emerging, one that emphasized social and cultural factors. To Macleod and others, these changes necessitated a major revision in medical education.

In 1952, his appointment as first Dean of Medicine in the University of Saskatchewan’s newly established medical school provided the opportunity he sought. He recruited Canada’s first full-time clinical faculty, and together they established an innovative curriculum. These innovations drew a mixed response from the medical establishment, but for Macleod and his supporters the challenges were exhilarating and profoundly satisfying.

Over the ensuing ten years, frustration overtook the initial euphoria. By 1961, several crises had converged, not least of which the looming medicare dispute. In 1962, having completed his second term as Dean of Medicine, Macleod accepted a position as secretary of the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges. There, his advocacy of progressive medical education continued.

He died in North Hero, Vermont, on June 10, 2001. But, for Macleod, the Saskatchewan years remained the richest experience of his life.

Anne McDonald