The First Medical Building

first medical building on campus
First Medical Building on campus

At last, in 1872, the University opened the Medical Faculty's own building on the University campus above Sherbrooke Street. The architect is unknown but it may have been designed by Principal William Dawson who taught Botany to the medical students. Certainly he supervised its design carefully. Situated on what is now the site of the James Administration Building, the Medical Building underwent three expansions: first in 1885, then in 1894 thanks to a contribution of $60,000 from J.H.R. Molson and lastly in 1899 thanks to a $100,000 gift from Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona. The publication entitled, McGill Medical Faculty Illustrated, published by Renouf in 1898 shows gracious Library facilities along with the laboratories, a museum and lecture halls.

In 1880 the first Library Committee was established, presided over by Dr. Francis J. Shepherd, later, Dean of the Faculty. The committee arranged for the creation of the first card catalogue where books were listed by subject and then by author in alphabetical order. Professors were firmly encouraged to sign the books out before leaving the Library with them! In 1895, Margaret Charlton (the first librarian with any formal training) was hired, and she introduced the Dewey Decimal System of subject classification, first developed twenty years earlier. By 1898, the Library contained 15,000 volumes, the largest university medical library on the continent, twice the size of those at either Yale University or the University of Pennsylvania.

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