The Montreal General Hospital Site
The Montreal General Hospital (MGH) was established as a result of the rapid growth of a small but bustling early 19th-century Montreal. As the city's population exploded to 25,000, by an additional 5000 in 1816 alone, it became obvious to leading citizens and clergy that the existing Hôtel Dieu and Hôpital Général de Montréal were inadequate to serve the rapidly expanding metropolis.
Several charitable organizations, including the Female Benevolent Society of Montreal and the Society for the Relief of Immigrants, petitioned city leaders and benefactors for the creation of a large modern hospital. This led to the foundation of the Montreal General Hospital. Funded largely through donations, a makeshift facility with 24 beds and an outpatient department was first opened on May 1, 1819 in a house on Craig Street. The cornerstone for the new Montreal General Hospital was laid two years later on Dorchester Street (renamed boulevard René-Lévesque in the 1980s). The MGH opened its new facility the following year, housing 72 beds on two floors—small by today's standards but large for the time.
The Montreal General Hospital was the first North American hospital to conduct clinical teaching at the patient's bedside. Its physicians made up a significant part of the faculty of Canada's first medical school, the Montreal Medical Institute, which became the McGill University Faculty of Medicine in 1829. Supported by prominent benefactors, including the Honourable John Richardson and several generations of the Molson family, the hospital gained recognition as it successfully fulfilled a dual role: to care for the sick and poor and to teach the most modern medical techniques to new generations of doctors.
As the decades passed, the Montreal General Hospital grew in both size and scope. On May 30, 1955, the hospital moved 103 public and semi-private patients from its site on Dorchester Boulevard to a new site on the southern edge of Mount Royal. The MGH soon claimed nearby lots and buildings, merging with other institutions, including the Western General Hospital, until it reached its present size.