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Robertson, L. (Lawrence) Bruce, 1885-1923


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Biographical Sketch or Administrative History

Lawrence Bruce Robertson (1885-1923) was an army officer and surgeon who was based in Toronto, Ontario, and who introduced the technique of indirect blood transfusion to the British army's medical personnel and subsequently helped save thousands of patients in military hospitals at the front during World War I.

Lawrence Bruce Robertson was born on September 6th, 1885 in Toronto, the son of Alexander James Robertson and Julia Dalmage Carry.

L. Bruce Robertson was educated at Upper Canada College, University College (BA, 1907), and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Toronto (MB, 1909). After interning in surgery at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, where his uncle John Ross Robertson was board chairman, he trained for a year and a half in paediatric and orthopaedic surgery at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, New York. He also spent six months as a house surgeon at the Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1913, Robertson returned to Toronto as an assistant in both clinical surgery and pathology at the Toronto Sick Children's Hospital as well as a demonstrator in clinical surgery at the university. In 1913, he published his first paper in the American Medical Association's Journal (Chicago). In 1915 Robertson published a noted article on blood transfusion in children, written with his hospital colleague Dr. Alan Brown.

Robertson enlisted in November of 1914. He received a Lieutenant's commission in the Canadian Army Medical Corps, and served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force throughout the war. Robertson was initially posted to the hospital at the training camp on the Toronto exhibition grounds. Dr. Robertson joined No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) when it was mobilized in February of 1915 and attained the rank of Captain. In April of that year, he was sent overseas with the No. 2 CCS, first to England where he was stationed at the Shorncliffe camp in Kent, and in September to the Continent where he served in France and Belgium. Dr. Robertson attained the rank of Major in the spring of 1917. For nearly two years, from 1916-1917, he was attached to the No. 2 CCS at Remy Siding, just behind Poperinge near the border between Belgium and France, about seven miles from the front

L. Bruce Robertson introduced the technique of indirect blood transfusion to the British army's medical personnel and helped save thousands of patients in military hospitals at the front during WWI. He first used it in the fall of 1915, while posted to No.14 Canadian General Hospital. Robertson's major paper, A contribution on blood transfusion in war surgery, was published in Lancet (London) in June of 1918. Due to a shortage of surgeons at the Hospital for Sick Children, Robertson returned to Toronto in February of 1918. At Sick Children's, he continued his clinical research.

Lawrence Bruce Robertson married Enid Gordon Finley on April 17, 1920 in Montreal, Quebec. Enid had been with the Volunteer Aid Detachment at Hart House at the University of Toronto at that time. They had two children, Lorraine and Alan. L. Bruce Robertson died on February 24th, 1923 in Toronto.

Source Note

L. Bruce Robertson fonds, F 1374

Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Robertson, Lawrence Bruce)


Archival Records Linked to this Creator

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Reference Code Series Title

F 1374

L. Bruce Robertson fonds