About Us
ABOUT : The Early Years (1900 - 1958)

The practice of Urology from 1900 to 1918 has been called the years of the “Clap” doctors. General Surgeons and Family Physicians treated venereal diseases with urethral irrigations and urinary retention with bladder drainage. Interestingly, there has been little mention of renal colic associated with calculus disease as a common problem. These surgeons did use prostatic massage, though, to relieve discomfort in the prostate area. The psychrophore was a double lumen metal catheter that was used to apply hot and cold irrigations to the prostatic urethra to relieve the symptoms of prostatitis. Before Urology became a surgical specialty, Dr. F.H. Mewburn, a general surgeon who was appointed the first Professor of Surgery at the University of Alberta in 1913, did provide surgical care for prostatic obstruction. When performing surgical enucleation of the obstructing prostate gland, he was assisted by one of his surgical colleagues, including Dr. L.H. Conn, an obstetrician, Dr. H. Hepburn, a neurosurgeon, or Dr. A.K. Monroe, a general surgeon. These surgeons performed a two-stage prostatectomy suprapubically by inserting Freyer’s tubes for bladder decompression and later, after the prostate gland was enucleated the tubes were used to evacuate blood clots.

Urology became a specialty in Edmonton when Dr. William Farquaharson, a graduate of Dalhousie University, came to Edmonton in 1921 as the City’s first practicing Urologist. He had had one year of Urology specialty training at McGill University in Montreal.

In the same year, Dr. Emerson-Smith a 1915 graduate of McGill University became the first Professor of Urology at the University of Alberta. Dr. Smith was an accomplished surgeon who performed two stage prostatectomies. He also used the Young cold-punch for surgical treatment of benign obstructing prostate disease. Although these new methods were considered innovative at that time, the results were poor from the standpoint of a high incidence of bladder perforations and mortality. He was the first Urologist to perform the McCarthy transurethral resections of the prostate gland in Alberta. He returned to McGill in 1938 as the Professor and Chief of Urology at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and is remembered as a tough surgeon who established Urology as a surgical specialty in the Department of Surgery.

In 1930, Dr. Gordon Ellis had joined Dr. Emerson-Smith at the University and Royal Alexandra Hospitals after being trained at Queen’s University and at McGill University. Dr. Ellis was reported to be a very skilled surgeon and teacher who became the first good resectionist in Alberta. He dramatically improved the mortality rates for transurethral resections of the prostate gland, despite the fact that he smoked cigarettes during his resections. In 1937, another memorable Urologist, Dr. Gordon Tucker, joined Dr. Ellis. He had trained at the University of Toronto under Dr. F. Patch and was an excellent resectionist. He was well read in many areas of interest including architecture and in fact, he designed his home in Windsor Park. He had strong feelings that prostatitis and female cystitis were psychiatric problems and that Urologists treating such conditions were in search of money to buy fur coats and houses for their dissatisfied wives. Dr. Ellis and Dr. Tucker loved parties. Dr. Tucker loved to proclaim on leaving such an event that, “I had better drive, for I am certainly unfit to sing.”

Dr. Fred Conroy arrived back in Edmonton as a Urology Specialist in 1941. He had been raised in Edmonton, but had trained in Urology at McGill under Dr. MacKenzie and Dr. Emerson-Smith. He began his Urology practice at the Edmonton General and Grey Nuns Hospitals. Although he was trained to perform trans-urethral resections of the prostate, he found that his technique improved by having three summer visits to Ann Arbor, to learn the technique more thoroughly from Dr. Reed M. Nesbit. Dr. Conroy claimed that he had lots of help from the nuns because he was a Catholic. He also claimed that he was required to buy some of his endoscopic equipment. He related that the nuns were not allowed in the operating room during cystoscopies because the hospital administrator thought it would be bad for their morals. Dr. Conroy will be remembered as a man who was full of good humor and wonderful stories. Once a year, around St. Patrick’s Day, Dr. Conroy would host City Urology Rounds at the General Hospital. He would come to the meeting as an over-sized leprechaun with green-dyed hair, green suit, and shoes. He would then spike the morning coffee with Jamieson’s Irish Whiskey. The residents loved it, and in fact, everyone loved it! After the meeting and presentation of problem cases, Dr. Conroy would make rounds to try to soothe his patients who were passing green urine. He had ordered methylene blue tablets with their March 17th breakfast. He was interested in urologic history and has made significant contributions to the writing of the History of the University of Alberta Urology. He retired in 1991 after more than fifty years of Urology practice in Edmonton.

Dr. Leo Geroux was raised in Gerouxville, Alberta and he graduated from the University of Alberta. His residency in Urology was accomplished in L’Hotel Dieu at Montreal. He returned to Edmonton in 1941 and practiced with Dr. Fred Conroy. He retired in 1971.


Residents who graduated during the early years included:

Dr. J.O. Metcalfe 1952 Edmonton, Alberta
Dr. Manny Mador 1952 Sudbury, Ontario and retired to Don Mills, Ontario
Dr. Al Hynes 1954 Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Dr. Calvin Krause 1955 Regina, Saskatchewan