skip to main content
Back to Top

History of the Division of Pediatric Surgery

From left: Dr. Brian Cameron and Dr. Gordon Cameron

Written by Dr. Robert Hansebout
Originally published in the Department of Surgery's In Focus newsletter

Dr. Gordon Cameron, MD BSc(Med) FRCS(C) FACS FAAP, now Professor Emeritus, was born in the Saskatchewan dustbowl but spent his formative years in Toronto. After wartime service in the RCAF and RN FAA he was granted FRCS(C) in General Surgery in1957. He took additional training at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Great Ormond Street Hospital in the UK. Pediatric Surgery was not a defined specialty, but he believed it would be and was determined to be part of that realization.

He had been attracted to Hamilton due to the number of births (>6,000!), the prospect of a future Medical School and Children’s Hospital. In 1958 he established a private surgical practice in Hamilton limited to infants and children with Active Staff privileges at all the area hospitals. He was warmly welcomed and helped by the community and the Pediatric, Surgical and Anesthesia establishment.

Referrals of babies and children by general practitioners and pediatricians gradually increased from Hamilton, Brantford, the Niagara Peninsula and immediately surrounding towns. The cases referred also became more complex. His interests most closely related to those of Pediatricians, as there were then no other surgical specialists limiting their practices to infants and children. Dr. Angus MacMillan and Dr. William Wilson provided strong leadership in continuing improvement of pediatric care. Some anesthetists were interested in dealing with infants and children, most notably Dr. Frank Ruston. Dr. Cameron established a friendly liaison with the surgical staff at the Hospital for Sick Children and referred a few of the more complex cases there. His overall results compared favorably with theirs. In 1978, Dr. George Lau joined him and they collaborated closely for over twenty years.

In the early days they provided clinical pediatric surgical experience to interns, a "chief surgical resident" at the Hamilton General Hospital, and for students on "summer internships" at St. Joseph's Hospital. He became very involved with the Hamilton Academy of Medicine (President in 1969) as it strongly supported the new Medical School. As Chief of Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital he helped negotiate agreements related to Medical Staff appointments with McMaster University. In 1972 he joined the Full Time Faculty, participating in the undergraduate and resident training programs in both Pediatrics and Surgery.

Recognition of Peiatric Surgery as a specialty developed nationally and internationally. He is a charter member of both the Canadian Association of Paediatric Surgeons and the American Pediatric Surgery.

Other surgical subspecialists who limited their practice to infants and children included Dr.George Lau, (Pediatric Surgery), Dr. Jorge De- Maria (Urology), Dr. Robert Martin (Orthopedics) and Dr. Robert Hollenberg (Neurosurgery). Chair of Surgery Dr. Robert Hansebout strongly supported recruitment of Pediatric Surgical Subspecialists including Dr. Brian Cameron, Dr. Peter Fitzgerald, and Dr. Mark Walton. In the 1960’s through 1980’s most primary care physicians were heavily involved in assisting with hospital care of their patients. When a Hamilton Hospital Council report recommended that full tertiary pediatric care could only be achieved by concentrating the patient load at McMaster University Medical Centre, other hospitals and their staffs were mostly opposed. Only with the achievement of a critical mass of tertiary level specialists and facilities was the official "McMaster Children's Hospital" status achieved in 1988, a year before his retirement.

Dr. Cameron felt that Dr. Angus MacMillan and Dr. Peter Dent deserve full credit for achieving that goal. Since then the growth of the McMaster Children's Hospital and its multidisciplinary Surgical Staff and highly specialized consultants in every field, has been gratifying for Gordon. It now has a growing reputation for providing outstanding patient care, education and research.

Dr. Cameron somehow enticed his son Brian to follow not only in his footsteps but also it appears, to wear the traditional pediatric bow tie, which is said to be more practical than a dangling designer tie when leaning over a baby with a dirty diaper!

McMaster Pediatric Surgeons

Name of Pediatric Surgeon

Years at McMaster

Gordon S. Cameron 1958 - 1989
George Y. P. Lau 1968 - 1999
Barry Sachs 1969 - 1970
Jacob Langer 1989 - 1992
Andrea Winthrop 1989 - 1992
Steven H. Borenstein 2003 - 2006
Khalid Al - Harbi 2007 - 2009
Peter G. Fitzgerald 1992 -
J. Mark Walton 1993 -
Brian H. Cameron 1999 -
Helene Flageole 2007 -
Karen Bailey 2010 -
Lisa VanHouwelingen 2017 -

Related Pages


© 201​​7 McMaster University  |  1280 Main Street West  |  Hamilton, Ontario ​L8S 4K1  |  905-525-​9140   |  Contact Us | Terms of Use & Privacy Policy