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Introduction: A Physician Saving Soldiers

Lawrence Bruce Robertson worked at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children before enlisting in the Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1914.

Bruce, as he was known, was born in Toronto in 1885. Having worked in hospitals in New York, Boston, and Toronto, he studied the new technique of blood transfusion.  He was 29 years old when the war broke out and he enlisted soon after. Serving as a field surgeon in England, he brought this new technique to the front lines. Thanks to the training he brought to the British army’s medical personnel, the use of blood transfusions helped save the lives of thousands of soldiers. He continued to work in front line hospitals in France and Belgium throughout the war.

Bruce survived the war and returned to Canada in 1918, where he continued his work at the Hospital for Sick Children. Only five years later, in 1923, Bruce died of pneumonia at the age of 37, leaving a widow and two small children.

L. Bruce Robertson in uniform
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L. Bruce Robertson in uniform, [ca. 1914-1918 ]
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0050303


L Bruce Robertson as a child
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L Bruce Robertson as a child, [ca. 1895]
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0050272


Certificate appointing Robertson to the rank of Lieutenant in the Army Medical Corps,
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Certificate appointing Robertson to the rank of Lieutenant in the Canadian Army Medical Corps,
April 5, 1914
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0050269


Letter issuing the 1914-15 Star to Robertson ca. 1918
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Letter issuing the 1914-15 Star to Robertso, n [ca. 1918]
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0071971


Postcard from L Bruce Robertson to Dr. Arthur G. Helwick [Robertson at centre], April 1915.
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Postcard from L. Bruce Robertson to Dr. Arthur G. Helwick [Robertson at centre], April 1915
L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374, Archives of Ontario, I0052167, I0073475
Postcard from Robertson to a medical colleague in the U.S. He writes that the photo on the front is some of the Toronto men in his hospital unit and most of them are medical students. Robertson appears in the middle.

Medal, 15th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-15 Star
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Medal, 15th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-15 Star
Bronze medal with ribbon
City of Toronto Museums and Heritage Services, 2000.5.904
Archives of Ontario, I0032795


Cap Badge, Canadian Army Medical Corps, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
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Cap Badge, Canadian Army Medical Corps, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), ca. 1914
Brass
City of Toronto Museums and Heritage Services, 1977.1.361
Archives of Ontario, I0032794


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