History of Medicine

In Memory of Dr. Michael Bliss

Esteemed historian, author and past AMS Board Member Michael Bliss, has died at the age of 76. A notable Canadian commentator, Dr. Bliss was an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a member of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

Dr. Bliss was known as one of the country’s leading intellectuals. A retired University Professor from the University of Toronto’s University College, he taught in the history department for almost forty years. Many suggest that Dr. Bliss was the preeminent medical historian of his era, the best Canadian economic historian of his generation, and possibly “the best history professor of all time”.

Dr. Bliss was the author of 14 books on an array of subjects, from business to politics. His published work also includes biographies of legendary figures in the medical community, such as Harvey Cushing, William Osler and Frederick Banting. Dr. Bliss was awarded three Hannah Medals from the Royal Society of Canada, for excellence of a publication in Canadian history of medicine, including one in 1983 for The Discovery of Insulin. The Royal Society also awarded him its Tyrrell Medal in 1988 “for outstanding work in the history of Canada”.

He has been awarded honourary degrees from the University of Toronto, McGill University, McMaster University, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and the University of British Columbia, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Dr. Bliss accepted a seat on the Board of Directors of Associated Medical Services (AMS) in 2002 and remained an integral part of the Board until 2009. In 2016, Dr. Bliss met with current AMS CEO, Gail Paech to discuss the upcoming AMS 80th Anniversary celebrations. It was Dr. Bliss’s idea to convene a Symposium to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary, AMS’s 80th and Medicare’s 50th birthday. Just days before the Symposium took place in May of 2017, Dr. Bliss informed us that he would be unable to attend. He was very much missed!

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