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The Janes Surgical Society – A Part of Our History

Peter, Rutka and photo of Janes

Peter Allen and James Rutka

The other day, I had the great pleasure of meeting with Dr. Peter Allen, who has been a longstanding member of the Janes Surgical Society. Dr Allen trained under Dr. Janes in the 1950’s, and went to Minnesota to learn cardiac surgery under Walton Lillehei. He then began his career as the first cardiac surgeon in Vancouver, and performed the first open heart surgery procedure there in 1957. Dr Allen now lives in Oakville, and he presented me with the Janes Surgical Society annotated history and the Janes Society gavel which lists all of the Past Presidents of this august group. Interestingly, we have the Janes Society memorabilia hanging on the walls of the Department of Surgery. The logo of the Society reflects Dr. Janes’ contribution to thoracic surgery and shows his famous tourniquet that was devised for use in lung resections.

Professor Janes was the third Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. We are indebted to Dr. Bob Delaney who kept accurate accounts of the Janes Society as the official historian.

All told, there were 111 members of the Janes Society, all trainees in the Department of Surgery while Dr. Janes was Departmental Chair. The Janes Surgical Society was founded in 1953. Dr. Janes was Professor of Surgery from 1947-1957, and members of the Janes Society were interns and residents in the 1940’s and 50’s.

The Janes Society was actually inspired by its predecessor, the Gallie Club. One might argue that the two groups, the Janes Society and the Gallie Club were rivals. For the Janes Society, the inclusion of wives in this Society was considered to be extremely important. Over the years, the Janes Society met almost annually in interesting locations. Some of the venues included Niagara Falls, Sudbury, Jamaica, New Orleans, Manchester London, and Elbow Beach Bermuda to name just a few.

The final meeting of the Janes Society was on the occasion of its 54th Anniversary at the Briar’s Resort in Sutton, Ontario September 21-23, 2008. At that time, some of the attendees included Ross and Pat Fleming, Anne and Bill Bahen, George and Esther Hiraki, Griff and Hilppa Pearson, Ron Tasker, Neil Watters, and Don Wilson and Peter Allen.

Dr. Allen retired in 2006. He is currently updating his autobiography. I invited him to the Department of Surgery, and he was pleased to see our new Departmental office. I was pleased to receive the framed portrait of Dr. Janes, which now hangs proudly in the Department of Surgery, the Janes Society Gravel, and the Proceedings of the Janes Surgical Society, and its illustrated history.

This to me was a poignant reminder of our very strong and rich history. The legacy pieces from the Janes Society speak loudly of our numerous accomplishments in the Department of Surgery. For those younger faculty members in our midst, I thought this review of the Janes Society would be both timely and important.

James T Rutka,
RS McLaughlin Professor and Chair
Department of Surgery, University of Toronto

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