March 6, 2024

CHOMS visits “Blood, Sweat, and Tears Exhibit” at The Military Museums in Calgary

History of Military Medicine in Canada at the Military Museums
tank exhibit The Military Museums

Defying the latest winter blizzard in southern Alberta, the Calgary History of Medicine Society (CHOMS) conducted its annual field excursion on March 1, 2024, to The Military Museums in Calgary, Alberta. Profiting from the exceptional travel exhibit, “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” (October 20, 2023 - March 3, 2024) on the History of Military Medicine in Canada, which was designed by Senior Curator Rory M. Cory, participating members of CHOMS and the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies enjoyed an excellent and highly informative tour by one of the TMM exhibit guides and an assisting curator of the museum collections. While CHOMS usually holds its field excursions during the summer, the board decided to seize on this occasion to visit TMM in March because history of military medicine exhibits in Canada are extremely rare. The group was interested in the rich compilation of objects, museum panels, oral history accounts, as well as interpreted stories around the individual sections.  As related by the curatorial staff, the exhibit reflects the period from the 1885 “North-West Rebellion” to the recent “Russia-Ukraine War” since 2022, while focusing on health disciplines, biographies, ranks, genders, conflicts, achievements, patient art, and medical innovations. Several highlights were: a 19th-century bone-saw, a prosthetic horse saddle, a transportable dental chair, a fully intact Cold War operation room from Calgary, Victoria Cross medals, a wooden incubator from the Canadian peacekeeping mission to Rwanda, along with patient art from veterans who suffer from PTSD. The group reflected deeply on one of the comments highlighted in the art pieces, emphasizing that the hardest part of war might be the return to civilian life afterwards. The evening was rounded out by a veterinary medicine talk given by UCalgary History Department PhD alumnus, Dr. Andrew McEwan.  It was entitled “Maintaining the Mobility of the Corps” and explored the role of Canada’s war horses and the military veterinarians in World War I. Thank you so much to TMM’s Erin May and her team for hosting this exciting CHOMS field excursion 2024!