SIMARD, ARTHUR (baptized Étienne-Thomas-Arthur), physician, surgeon, and professor; b. 5 Oct. 1867 in the parish of Notre-Dame de Québec in Quebec City, son of Louis-Joseph-Alfred Simard, physician and professor, and Marie-Christine-Édith Michaud; m. there 3 May 1898 Ernestine Marchand, daughter of Félix-Gabriel Marchand*, and they had one son and one daughter; d. 3 Sept. 1931 in Quebec City.
Arthur Simard was born into a family in which the love of medicine and of intellectual rigour had already been well established by a father who was a physician and a professor at the Université Laval in Quebec City. Throughout his career, the latter attached the utmost importance to the overall organization of his profession and to the sharing of knowledge. Young Arthur was thus raised in this ambience and gradually forged an identity and ambitions along the lines of the paternal model.
Interested in medical science and showing ability, Simard successfully finished his classical studies at the Petit Séminaire de Québec in 1886 and then entered the faculty of medicine at the Université Laval in Quebec City, where he obtained his md with the highest honours in 1890. Subsequently, he followed his father’s example and went to France. He remained there for three years, during which he specialized in surgery.
Upon his return from Europe in 1894 Simard was appointed associate professor at his alma mater, a post he held until 1899, the year he was promoted to full professor. During his career he would be responsible for teaching courses in hygiene, practical anatomy, and practical surgery. From 1912 to 1931 he taught surgical pathology and surgical clinical practice at the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec. For Simard, teaching was a real vocation since he preferred to express himself verbally rather than in writing. He was successful thanks to his facility with words, his vast knowledge of medicine, and his scientific curiosity.
Simard practised medicine and surgery, for the most part at the Hôtel‑Dieu, where he gradually rose through the ranks. Indeed, he worked as assistant to the head surgeon, Laurent Catellier*, in 1900 before succeeding him in 1905. In his practice he treated some of the poor citizens of Quebec City without charge. On 17 Oct. 1930 he would be appointed head of the surgery department and consulting surgeon at the Hôpital Laval.
On 5 Feb. 1900 Simard became a member of the Board of Health of the Province of Quebec (which from 1915 would be known as the Superior Board of Health of the Province of Quebec). The following year he was elected to the board of governors of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of Quebec. His presence in the top decision-making circles of his milieu enabled him to increase his influence and to be involved in a few reforms that would spur the development of French Canadian medical practice. He collaborated, for example, on drafting the Quebec Medical Act, which came into force on 7 May 1909 [see Albert Laurendeau*]; it created, among other things, a disciplinary board, and extended medical studies from four to five years.
In 1914, having been vice-president since 1907, Simard became at the age of 47 the youngest president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of Quebec, of which he was also one of the governors from 1901 to 1926. Once again he followed in the footsteps of his father, who had presided over the organization from 1895 to 1898. Simard’s term as the “wartime president,” as he liked to call himself, was affected by the world conflict. Since men aged 19 to 23 were called up to serve in the army, which resulted in shrinking enrolment in the medical faculties, the college shortened the program’s courses to 12 months from 24. In addition, the organization donated over $2,000 to a patriotic fund and to the No.6 Canadian General Hospital of the Université Laval. As president, Simard contributed significantly to the major reforms of his time, in particular to the amendment to the Quebec Medical Act, which was passed in 1918. The principal changes to the statute were the introduction of a secret ballot for electing governors and the reduction of their numbers from 41 to 21, the abolition of semi-annual meetings in favour of an annual one, and the establishment of a pension and relief fund for elderly and indigent doctors. Simard also introduced some modifications to the medical curriculum. He made the study of biology compulsory and imposed a written examination on second- and fifth-year students. His presidency ended in 1918 and he was succeeded by Rodolphe Boulet. Subsequently, until 1922, Simard resumed his position as vice-president in the company of, notably, the physicians Albert Laurendeau, Louis-Philippe Normand, and Joseph Gauvreau. As well, from 1918 until his death, he presided over the Central Board of Health of the Province of Quebec; under his administration, the government body became more effective in matters of public health, especially in the battle against tuberculosis. He was also appointed to the royal commission on tuberculosis in 1909.
Besides these achievements, Simard was president (1906–8) of the Association des Médecins de Langue Française de l’Amérique du Nord [see Michel-Delphis Brochu] and of its 1908 conference, and president of the Medical Council of Canada (1926–27) and the Société Médicale de Québec. He set out his ideas, which were sometimes controversial, in Le bulletin médical de Québec, of which he had been a founding member in 1899. Moreover, for almost 20 years he had been a highly regarded speaker in medical societies. In 1902, during the first conference of the Association des Médecins de Langue Française de l’Amérique du Nord, Simard gave a speech that revealed his love for French and for France, which awarded him the title of officier de l’Instruction publique.
Arthur Simard devoted his life to teaching, practising medicine and surgery, and participating in medical associations. He sometimes permitted himself well-deserved periods of rest at his country house on the Île d’Orléans. Guided by his passion for communicating knowledge and his wish to improve the practice of medicine, this capable man, who adhered firmly to his convictions, made an impression on one and all with his somewhat brusque manners and his natural wit. He maintained solid friendships, particularly with the physicians Télesphore Parizeau and Gauvreau, as well as with his brother-in-law Senator Raoul Dandurand*. Simard died in 1931 after a brief illness. Like his father before him, he succeeded in passing on his love for his profession to his son, André, who in turn became a doctor.
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Cite This Article
Marie-Claude Dubé, “SIMARD, ARTHUR (baptized Étienne-Thomas-Arthur),” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 2, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/simard_arthur_16E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Marie-Claude Dubé|
|Title of Article:||SIMARD, ARTHUR (baptized Étienne-Thomas-Arthur)|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||2015|
|Year of revision:||2015|
|Access Date:||June 2, 2023|