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- Segall, Harold Nathan, 1897-1990
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Born to a Jewish family in Jassy, Romania on October 17, 1897, Harold Nathan Segall immigrated to Montreal with his family in 1900. Harold, his older brother Jack "Jerry" Segall (1894-1966), and his sister Jennie Segall Diner (1904-1988) were all educated in Montreal, and were raised to be fluent in their native Yiddish as well as Montreal's two dominant languages. Entering McGill medical school in 1915, Dr. Segall took five years to complete his basic medical training, serving for a year as a Royal Canadian Navy doctor on a merchant marine ship during the First World War. He graduated from McGill Medical School in 1920, after which he became a Demonstrator in Pathology at McGill and worked with Maude Abbott. Leaving Montreal in 1922 to obtain specialized training in the diseases of the heart in Boston, London and Vienna, he returned to Montreal in 1926 as the city's first fully trained cardiologist. Starting his medical practice upon his return, Dr. Segall also accepted a junior post at McGill and launched one of Canada's first cardiac clinics at the Montreal General Hospital. He opened additional cardiac clinics at the Herzel Dispensary and the Women's General Hospital, in the late 1920s. As part of his practice, he not only saw patients in his office, but made regular house calls, being the first physician in Montreal to have a portable electrocardiograph (ECG), which he acquired in 1927. Also central to his practice and his teaching was the graphic means of depicting heart sounds and murmurs which he had invented in the 1930s and used throughout his career.
As a prominent Jewish doctor in Montreal during the 1920s and 30s, Dr. Segall participated in the founding of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, eventually becoming the hospital's Head of Cardiology. Giving lectures both at the hospital and McGill to students, interns, and practitioners, Dr. Segall acted as a McGill Assistant Professor of Medicine from 1949 until 1960. He was also an influential founding member of the Montreal Cardiac Society in 1946, the Canadian Heart Association in 1947, the Canadian Heart Foundation, the Quebec Heart Foundation, and the Quebec Association of Cardiologists. Indeed, Dr. Segall acted as president of the Canadian Heart Association, the Montreal Cardiac Society, and the Quebec Heart Foundation, as well as vice-president of the Canadian Heart Foundation.
Based in Montreal's neighbourhood of Côte des Neiges, Dr. Segall's family consisted of his wife, Dorothy Violet "Dolly" Caplin, whom he married in Montreal in 1934, as well as their two children, Carol Tova Segall (born 15 Nov. 1934) and Jack Oba Segall (born 20 Nov. 1936). Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the 1950s, Mrs. Segall was permanently hospitalized from 1968 until her death in 1983.
Throughout his career and into his retirement, Dr. Segall took a great interest in the history of medicine, particularly the history of cardiology and auscultation. In addition to his numerous published medical articles, he also wrote many works on the history of medicine, including numerous articles, pamphlets, and two books. Furthermore, he was a curator of McGill's Osler Library of the History of Medicine, an honourary member of McGill's Osler Society, and was often asked to speak on the history of his field.
Retiring in 1984, Dr. Segall remained active and involved in his community and his field throughout the 1980s and beyond. He died in 1990 in Montreal at the age of 92.