History of the Montreal Chest Institute

The Montreal Chest Institute was originally named the Royal Edward Institute. It opened in October 1909 and was originally located on Belmont Street, the current site of Montreal’s Central Station. Its initial mission was to treat people with tuberculosis, study the disease and prevent its spread.

The Institute was officially opened by King Edward VII even though he was thousands of miles away in Sussex, England. To launch the Institute, the King sent a telegraph which sprung open the Institute’s doors. It was a novel inauguration and it caused a sensation. At least 15 newspapers throughout the British Empire published articles about the unique opening ceremony.

His Majesty, King Edward VII, three thousand miles away in the library of West Dean Park, Chichester, had pushed into position the switch which sent across the rolling Atlantic an electric current officially opening the new Royal Edward Institute this afternoon.The Montreal Herald, Oct. 21, 1909

The event, a magnificent triumph of science, was worthy of an occasion which saw the King and his loyal subjects unite to do honour to a work which is set up to alleviate the sufferings of a common humanity.Montreal Witness, Oct. 23, 1909

Telegraph switch wired to open doors with a transatlantic signal at the Royal Edward Institute, 1909.

New Location and Expanded Mandate

In the 1930s, the Institute moved to Saint-Urbain Street and became a McGill University teaching hospital. Thanks to the introduction and distribution of antibiotics in the 1940s, tuberculosis became much less prevalent. The MCI expanded its area of expertise, providing care and conducting research on a range of complex respiratory diseases.

The Montreal Chest Institute

In 1972, the Meakins-Christie Laboratories, a world-class centre dedicated to researching respiratory disease, opened heralding an astonishing period of discovery that continues today.

The MCI went through a couple of voluntary mergers in the 1990s. Initially, it joined forces in 1994 with the Royal Victoria Hospital, with whom it had always closely collaborated. It was renamed the Montreal Chest Institute of the Royal Victoria Hospital. Then in 1997 the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Chest Institute, the Montreal General Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital and the Montreal Children’s Hospital merged to become founding members of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), one of the largest and most modern academic health centres in North America. The Lachine Hospital joined the MUHC in 2008.

For years, the MCI’s home on Saint-Urbain Street was known as cozy and compassionate. But by the 21st century, the building – like many other MUHC buildings – had become too old to continue offering modern healthcare. On June 14, 2015, completing a historic move, the Montreal Chest Institute followed the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Montreal Children’s Hospital and took up residence in bright and modern facilities at the MUHC’s Glen site, located at the corner of Décarie and de Maisonneuve Boulevards. This move has allowed the Montreal Chest Institute to continue its award-winning patient care and research, setting standards worldwide for respiratory care right here in Montreal.

A Brief History of the Montreal Chest Institute and of Respiratory Medicine and Research


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