Series 3 - Speeches

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CA MUA MG2001-3

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  • 1945-1991 (Creation)
    Robertson, H. Rocke (Harold Rocke), 1912-1998

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.63 m of textual records.
9 photographs.
7 slides.

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Biographical history

Born in Victoria, British Columbia, on August 4, 1912, Harold Rocke Robertson, known as H. Rocke Robertson or “Rocke”, received his primary school education at St. Michael’s School and his secondary school training, from 1926-1929, at Brentwood College in Victoria. From 1925-1926, accompanied by his sister, Marian, he studied near Geneva, Switzerland, where he acquired French. In 1929 he moved to Montreal where he attended McGill University, receiving a B.Sc. (1932) and an M.D.C.M. (1936). He also completed an internship at the Montreal General Hospital under Dr. Fraser B. Gurd and he studied pathology under Dr. Pop Rhea. Following this, Robertson earned a medical fellowship at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Scotland, where he studied from 1938 to 1939. In 1937 he married Beatrice Rosyln Arnold, known as “Rolly” at Arncliffe, her family home, in Senneville, Quebec, and had four children: Tam, Ian, Bea, and Stuart, known as “Tooie or Toopot”.

H. Rocke Robertson died on February 8, 1998, Ottawa, Ontario. His funeral was held at McGill University.

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This series contains H. Rocke Robertson’s speeches which document his role as the Principal of McGill, 1963 1970 (Container 8, Files 161, 164, 175); his medical experience during WWII and his subsequent surgical and medical expertise, 1945 1971 (Container 8, Files 155, 157), including such speeches as that delivered to the Vancouver Medical Association on the Activities of a F eld Surgical Uni , 1945 (Container 8, File 158); and the Shattuck Lectures delivered in Massachusetts in 1965 (Container 1, File 19), in which Robertson reflects on noteworthy medical cases that he encountered during his career while simultaneously commenting o his failure to develop innovative surgical techniques. Graphic medical photos accompany the speech. Following his retirement, Robertson was frequently called upon to give public addresses such as that delivered at a nurse’s graduation at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, 1971 (Container 4, File 82) and at the Montreal General Hospital Dinner on October 12, 1989 (Container 4, File 113), in which he reflects on his time studying pathology under Dr. Pop Rhea.

Robertson’s interest in the history of medicine is apparent in the speeches he delivered to both the Osler Society, 1947 1958 Container 8, File 156) and the American Osler Society in 1991. The later, entitled “William Osler and the OED”, includes slides and booklets, as well as offering a hypothesis on Osler’s possible medical word contributions to the Oxford English Dictionary, 1991 (Container 8, File 160). The Osler speeches cover such diverse topics as Robertson’s reminiscences on war surgery, including detailed descriptions of the effects of missiles (bullets) passing through the body, the effects of gas gangrene, and Robertson’s feelings on his first experience using the new drug, penicillin (Container 8, File 156). Also included is a speech Robertson delivered about Osler’s trip to British Columbia in 1886 and the development of the practice of medicine in the province, 1947 1958 (Container 8, File 156), which highlights Robertson’s skills as an orator.

Numerous speeches reflect Robertson’s duties as principal of McGill University, including his installation address on April 2, 1963 in which he comments on the achievements of past McGill principals, as well as elucidating his own plans for improving relations between English and French Canada through improved education at McGill (Container 8, File 161). Also included are Robertson’s graduation addresses 1962-1992 (Container 3, File 67) and the bound volumes Addresses and Other Papers: H.
Rocke Robertson, 1963 1970 (Container 19, Files 257-264), which contain Robertson’s speeches during his principalship at McGill.

Correspondence files and speech notes reflect Robertson’s activities as a collector of rare books and English dictionaries, 1960 1991 (Container 8, File 163 . Also preserved is his speech for the reception of his dictionary collection at the University of British Columbia, 1990 (Container, File 40) and a series of pamphlets and newspaper clippings on conferences, where Robertson was a uest speaker 1971 1983, 1972 1973, 1971 1973, 1977 (Container 15, File 233; Container 2, File 32, 35; Container 8, File 162).

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