A tribute to one of the founding fathers of anaesthesia in Canada.
In this biography of Wesley Bourne (1886-1965), eminent anaesthetist and founding chairman of the Department of Anesthesia at McGill University, Joan Bevan and Maria Pacelli recall his life and successful career, documenting his extensive contributions to the development of anaesthesia in Canada.
Bourne led the "Great Triumvirate" of Montreal anaesthetists - himself, Harold Griffith, and Digby Leigh, who dominated much of anaesthesia in the 1940s. Responding to wartime needs, they started training programs for the armed forces, which developed into an anaesthesia course after the war. The establishment in 1945 of the Department of Anesthesia at McGill, the first autonomous department of anaesthesia in Canada, was the culmination of Bourne's ambitions, dedication, and hard work. Thriving on technological advances and international recruitment, the department gained a reputation that depended in large measure on Bourne's work. In fact, current programs in the department are still based on those Bourne started half a century ago.
Always ahead of his time, Bourne set goals for his specialty and made anaesthesia equal to other medical specialties by establishing specialist societies. The Canadian Anaesthetists' Society still uses the emblem he designed in 1920 - Hypnos outside the Cave of Sleep with the motto "We watch closely those who sleep." Bourne published widely on his research, clinical advances, teaching, and hospital administration, and his views remain pertinent today, providing direction for future anaesthetists.