Edwin Robertson


Edwin Moody Robertson, MB, CHB, FRCS (Ed), FRCOG
1902 - 1977
Obstetrics & Gynaecology 1939 - 1968

EDWIN ROBERTSON was born June 22, 1902 in Edinburgh. He was educated at George Watson's College, Edinburgh and Morrison's Academy, Crieff. He entered the Faculty of Medicine, University of Edinburgh and graduated in 1926.

His graduate training in obstetrics and gynaecology included house surgeon appointments in gynaecology and obstetrics at Leith Hospital, the Royal Infirmary and the Royal Maternity and Simpson Memorial Hospital in Edinburgh. His research training included six months at the University of Lausanne and a concurrent appointment in the department of animal genetics, University of Edinburgh from 1929. In 1931 he was admitted by examination to Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons. He named, by examination, membership in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1933 and subsequently was granted fellowship in the Royal College in 1940.

He served as a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at several hospitals including the Edinburgh Corporation Antenatal Clinic at Portabello, Leith Hospital, the Royal Infirmary, Western General Hospital and the Hospital for the Diseases for Women. At the same time he was lecturer in clinical obstetrics and assistant to the professor of midwifery and diseases of women at the University of Edinburgh.

He was appointed as the first full-time chairman of obstetrics and gynaecology at Queen's in 1939, a position he held for the next 25 years. He brought with him an excellent reputation as a teacher, clinician and researcher and his subsequent career was marked by significant achievements.

He was a skilled clinical teacher in the lecture room, on the ward and in the operating room. A master of the English language, his lectures were a model of precision and clarity and a highlight of the undergraduate program. In addition to his classical teaching skills, he was a pioneer of the teaching aid, creating an obstetrical and gynaecological museum widely recognized for its superb models. As stated by the students on his retirement, ‘the present students would like to join with those of the past in saluting Dr Robertson whose enthusiasm for this subject has been contagious and whose vivid descriptions will remain with us long after we have left Queen's.'

Dr Robertson served his patients as a competent, compassionate clinician and skilled surgeon. He provided leadership in the development of the patient care facilities at the Kingston General Hospital. He described this challenge - 'The obstetric service was a conglomeration of passages and precipitous stairways in Nickle, an old lumbering elevator ascending to a smelly and crowded combination of doctor room, shower room and toilet, two tiny labour rooms and two so-called delivery rooms. The three floors of the great Connell Wing with its spacious halls and magnificantly appointed obstetric department was the culmination of 20 years of dreaming and planning.'

Dr Robertson initiated and maintained the first long term externally funded research program in the department. These studies began in 1947 and continued for the next 15 years. The laboratory component included investigation of microscopic and electron microscopic characteristics of the human cervix while clinically the role of the colposcope and colpomicroscope in the detection of precancerous and cancerous lesions of the cervix was assessed. Latterly, normal and abnormal placental tissue was investigated in collaboration with the department of pathology.

Dr Robertson's abilities were recognized outside Queen's. He took a leave of absence for six months in 1950 exchanging positions with Dr J. Chassor Moir, Nuffield Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Oxford, England: Dr Robertson assumed responsibility of that prestigious department while Dr Moir came to Queen's. He served as the Ontario chairman for District V of the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1956 and president of the Canadian Society for the Study of Fertility.

Dr Robertson retired from the Faculty of Medicine and the department in 1968 at the age of 66. He lived in Kingston until his death in 1977. Dr Robertson and his wife Hannah had three children, one son, William, and two daughters, Gillian and Elspeth.