Christopher J. Rutty, Ph.D
Medical Historian - Health Heritage Consultant |




For a selection of recent and classic books on various aspects of the History of Medicine & Health Care in Canada, browse through the HHRS Health Heritage Book Corner aStore, courtesy of
Interesting new book:

100 More Canadian Heroines

By Merna Forster

This is a follow-up to Forster's popular 100 Canadian Heroines, which brings together 100 more incredible stories of great characters and wonderful images.

I helped with providing research materials for the chapter about about Dr. Leone N. Farrell, who, as featured elsewhere on this site, played a major role in the development of the Salk polio vaccine in the early 1950s.

You'll find more information about this book at:


Now on Public Display:


(click image for larger view)

This is a permanent historical exhibit marking the 90th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, sponsored by the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine in partnership with the University Health Network and the MaRS Centre.

The exhibit is located at the MaRS Centre, 101 College Street, Toronto, in the east tower entrance.

I worked as historian, researcher, writer and consultant on this exhibit in close partnership with IQ Inc. The main archival and artifact sources were the Faculty of Medicine, The U of T Fisher Rare Book Library Digital site, "The Discovery and Early Development of Insulin," and the archives of Sanofi Pasteur Limited (Connaught Campus).

See the CBC-TV "The National" feature on the development of this exhibit.

Read The Toronto Star story about the exhibit


Here is a collection of photos showcasing a project I've been involved with at Sanofi Pasteur's Connaught Campus in Toronto. It is a Heritage Room in which the history of Connaught Laboratories (now the Canadian arm of the global sanofi pasteur vaccine company) is exhibited through a diverse collection of artifacts and archival photos.

Key to designing and assembling this exhibit has been IQ Inc. of Toronto.

My role was focused on research, artifact/ photo selection and textual development, as well as general historical consultations as the project developed.

Click on thumbnails for larger view and to see full gallery

Christopher J. Rutty and Sue Sullivan, This Is Public Health: A Canadian History (Ottawa: Canadian Public Health Association, 2010) is a free downloadable e-book. Richly illustrated and interactive, this history explores public health from the time before Canada was a nation until 1986. Photos and illustrations bring the story of public health alive. The history is dotted with profiles of the people who mobilized communities to promote health and to prevent disease and injury over the past 100 years.

Decade by decade, the history tells the stories of sanitary reformers who fought to improve the living conditions of the whole community and prevent disease and injury. Environmental pollution, contaminated food and water, birth control, vaccination and nutrition were challenges 100 years ago and remain important and sometimes controversial issues today.The history ends with the development of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion and what many consider to be the launch of a new era in public health. It’s striking how so many public health stories from the past still resonate today and this book is dedicated to Canada’s public health reformers, past and present, who strive to build a better, healthier future for all.

Read the Executive Summary

Read a Book Review

Read More About the Book and CPHA Centenary Conference

James FitzGerald, What Disturbs Our Blood (Toronto: Random House, 2010). A rich, unmined piece of Canadian history, an intense psychological drama, a mystery to be solved… and a hardwon escape from a family curse

*** Winner of Writers' Trust of Canada Award for Non-Fiction***

*** Finalist for British Columbia Achievement Foundation National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

Like his friends Banting and Best, Dr. John G. Fitzgerald was a Canadian hero. He founded Connaught Laboratories (1914) and the School of Hygiene (1927) within the Univesity of Toronto, saved untold lives with his vaccines and transformed the idea of public health in Canada and the world. What so darkened his reputation that his memory has been all but erased? Connaught Laboratories today is now Sanofi Pasteur Limited (Connaught Campus) in Toronto and the Canadian component of the global sanofi pasteur organization.

A sensitive, withdrawn boy is born into the gothic house of his long dead grandfather, a brilliant yet tormented pathologist of Irish blood and epic accomplishment whose memory has been mysteriously erased from public consciousness. As the boy watches his own father - also an eminent doctor - plunge into a suicidal psychosis, he intuits, as the psychiatrists do not, some unspeakable secret buried like a tumour deep in the multi-generational layers of the family unconscious. Growing into manhood, he knows in his bones that he must stalk an ancient curse before it stalks him. To set himself free, he must break the silence and put words to the page. His future lies in the past.

Read a book review from the Globe & Mail

There's more information about James FitzGerald and Dr. J.G. FitzGerald on James' website.


Christopher J. Rutty, "'Couldn't Live Without It': Diabetes, the Costs of Innovation and the Price of Insulin, 1922-1984," Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 25 (2008): 407-31. Research article traces insulin prices in Canada from 1922, just after its discovery at the University of Toronto, through to 1984, when production fell out of Canadian control. Connaught Laboratories (part of the U. of T. from 1914 through 1972) was the first to manufacture insulin and remained the sole Canadian producer. As a public trust, Connaught remained committed to providing insulin at the lowest possible price, despite increasing economic pressures. This article analyzes the context surrounding the price of insulin preparations and how they fell from 1922 through 1942, remained unchanged until 1967, and rose during the 1970s.

PDF of article available here | Browse the history of medicine at the Canadian Bulletin of Medicine History website

"Connaught Laboratories' Mosaic and the Re-Discovery of a Master Artist: Alexander von Svoboda" - A small job answering a question about the history and meaning of a unique mosaic mural created to adorn a building at Connaught Laboratories in 1966 lead Christopher Rutty to the studio of Alexander von Svoboda. Chris not only discovered the story behind the Connaught mosiac, he also re-discovered a master artist who is little known today, but from the 1950s through late 1980s was one of the most sought after artists in the world. His works - mosaics, sculptures, fountains - were commissioned for hospitals, churches, businesses, public buildings & spaces, governments and private residences across Canada and in many other countries.

An extensive overview of the Connaught mosaic story, and highlights of Alexander von Svoboda's enormous body of works, can be foud here. Also visit Alexander von Svoboda's website

"Insulin in Toronto: Discovery, Development and Diabetes Control, 1921-1923" - Historical Poster Exhibit now showing at Toronto General Hospital, Diabetes Clinic, 12th Floor, Eaton Wing, 200 Elizabeth Street, Toronto.

This series of 16 posters, researched, written and designed by Christopher Rutty, tell the dramatic story of the discovery and early development of Insulin in Toronto, especially during 1921-23, but also highlights the subsequent advances made in the production of Insulin in Canada and its legacy.

Vew the posters here | Explore the Discovery of Insulin further at the University of Toronto's Digital Library

The History of Polio - Comprehensive text with image gallery covering the international story of polio epidemics, the development of both vaccines, the global polio eradication initiative and the challenge of post-polio syndrome - View feature here

For more visit the Polio History pages here

C.J. Rutty, “Canadian Vaccine Research, Production and International Regulation: Connaught Laboratories and Smallpox Vaccines, 1962-1980,” (originally presented at ‘Immunology at the Bench and Bedside,’ conference, Toronto, June 17, 2004) in Kenton Kroker, Jennifer Keelan and Pauline M.H. Mazumdar (eds.) Crafting Immunity: Working Histories of Clinical Immunology (Ashgate, April 2008) PDF file of article available here

See also: L. Barreto and C.J. Rutty, "The Speckled Monster: Canada, Smallpox and its Eradication," Canadian Journal of Public Health 93 (July-Aug 2002): Special Insert I-1 - I-20 - pdf file available

C.J. Rutty, "Personality, Politics and Public Health: The Origins of Connaught Medical Research Laboratories, 1888-1917," in E.A. Heaman, Alison Li, Shelley McKellar (eds.) Figuring the Social: Essays in Honour of Michael Bliss (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), p. 273-303 - PDF of full article available here

Additional features related to the history of Connaught Laboratories: Dr. Robert D. Defries | PMC: A Shared Heritage | Dr. Oliver Smithies & Starch-Gel Electrophoresis | Heparin | Diphtheria Toxoid | Insulin | Polio

Harry Black, "Leone Farrell: Research Scientist: Mass Production of Polio Vaccine," in his Canadian Scientists and Inventors: Biographies of people who shaped our world (2nd Edition) (Markham: Pembroke Publishing, 2008), pp. 59-65 - More details here

More on Dr. Leone Farrell available here

Dr. Farrell's final resting place is now appropriately marked with a fitting tribute to her significant contributions. Click images for larger views.

L. Barreto, R. Van Exan & C.J. Rutty, "The Challenge of Whooping Cough: Canada's Role in the Development of Pertussis Vaccines," historical exhibit produced for Sanofi Pasteur Limited (Connaught Campus), April - December 2006 - View the Exhibit Brochure & Highlights of Travelling Exhibit

Additional Pertussis Vaccine historical resources here

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