Plastic Surgery was introduced to the Hamilton area in the early days of the development of the specialty shortly after World War II.
The first plastic surgeon in the area was Dr. Wallace McNichol who completed his plastic surgical training at the Columbia-Presbyterian hospital in New York City. At the completion of second world war, he returned to Hamilton to commence practice in 1946 until he died in 1985.
The second plastic surgeon was Dr. Vaughn Renshaw who served in the navy in WWII. He completed his surgical and plastic training in Toronto during the early days of our specialty and was intimately associated with the advancements made in the war in the care of the wounded.
The third plastic surgeon in Hamilton was Dr. Orville Mirehouse who graduated from the University of Western Ontario medical school. Following that he did his internship and surgical residency at the Hamilton General Hospital for 3 years. He did one year of Anatomy Demonstration at the University of Toronto. On the advice of Dr. McNichol, he completed his Plastic Surgical Training at the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City under the leadership of Dr. Jerome Webster, one of the fathers of American plastic Surgery. There has been strong relationship between Hamilton and the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital as three of our plastic surgeons have trained there. The third was Dr. Stewart Heddle who went there from guidance from Dr.Mirehouse.
In 1966 the McMaster Medical School was built and with it ushered the modern era of specialization under the guidance of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. Various surgical programs commenced at McMaster under the leadership of Dr. Barber Mueller, the first chairman of the Deptartment of Surgery (he also served as a past editor of the Canadian Journal of Surgery). The first plastic surgical resident to commence training under the Royal College program was Dr.John Cohen-Shohet in 1976 who now is practicing in Florida.
The first program director of the newly formed plastic surgery training program was Dr. Orville Mirehouse who served until 1988 at which time he also retired. The second resident in our program was Dr. A J Puri who practiced in Burlington until his untimely death a few years ago. The third resident to graduate from the program is Dr.A. Thoma. Dr. Thoma pursued fellowships in hand surgery and microsurgery at the University of Louisville under the leadership of Dr. Harold Kleinert. He returned to Hamilton to introduce microsurgery in head and neck reconstruction at St .Joseph's hospital. Dr.Thoma served as the second program director form 1998 -1998 and he resumed this role from 2005 to 2008. Dr. Thoma is now the Academic Division Head of Plastic Surgery. Prior to Dr. Thoma's second term, Dr. James Bain served as the Program Director from 1999 to 2005. Dr. Nick Strumas has served as the current Program Director since 2008.
Other plastic surgeons who served the Hamilton area over the years and in the order they arrived in Hamilton are: Dr. Gunter Born who completed his plastic training in Syracuse, NY, Dr. Richard Farmer, who for a number of years was the head of the plastic surgery service at Chedoke and chief of the amalgamated institutions known as the Chedoke-McMaster Hospital, Dr. Barry Clark, who graduated from the McGill University plastic surgery program, who served as the head of the plastic surgery service at St. Joseph's hospital and head of the division of plastic surgery at McMaster University.