Brock Chisholm (1896-1971), born in Oakville, Ontario and trained in medicine and psychiatry, rose to international prominence as the first Director-General of the World Health Organization. When he
Brock Chisholm (1896-1971), born in Oakville, Ontario and trained in medicine and psychiatry, rose to international prominence as the first Director-General of the World Health Organization. When he accepted this position in 1948 he assumed responsibility for the largest practice any doctor had ever had, over 3 billion people. A few years earlier in 1945 Canadians had been rocked when Chisholm declared that children should not be taught thought-crippling myths such as a belief in Santa Claus. National howls of outrage followed, particularly since at the time he was Canada's Deputy Minister of Health and his statements were seen as inappropriate for a high ranking civil servant. The Santa Claus uproar cemented his reputation for creating a hubbub almost every time he spoke publicly - and there were many such occasions. He was once called "Canada's most famously articulate angry man."
During the two decades following the Second World War, Chisholm was one of the most controversial figures in Canada. Newspaper editorials either reviled him or praised his attitudes as those of an enlightened modern humanist. Chisholm had many careers: medical doctor, psychiatrist, soldier, military administrator, civil servant, world health pioneer, peace activist, and environmentalist. His contemporaries honoured him for his enormous contributions to world health although subsequent generations have lost sight of his significance. This biography recognizes his deserved place in Canadian history.