The Victoria Medico-Chirurgical Society was founded in 1895, laying the ground work for what is now known as the Victoria Medical Society. On December 6th, 1899 Dr. J. D. Helmcken was elected the first President of the VMS. In 1917, the VMS became incorporated under the Benevolent Societies Act.
In 1911 the VMS grappled with the idea of starting a library. They appointed a committee and in 1922 a library was established. In 1932 the library moved to St. Joseph’s Hospital. The library grew to the point where the Society had to hire a librarian to take care of the incoming circulations. In 1979 the VMS donated the library to the Royal Jubilee Hospital where it continues to operate today.
Currently, the VMS office is run by one employee; however, all decisions are reached by an elected committee of 5 – 6 members. This committee meets monthly. The office is supported solely through membership dues.
The VMS celebrates 125 years and continues to provide assistance to doctors and the general public. For physicians, the Society provides an arena to unite colleagues informally. The VMS hosts and helps facilitate various annual social events such as:
- The Listerian Oration
- The Annual General Meeting
- Victoria Branch – Federation of Medical Woman of Canada events
- The Annual Island Medical Student Welcome Dinner
The VMS is run by a collaborative team and all decisions are determined by elected committee members. Additionally, the VMS Archives Committee collects and stores medical artifacts, thus helping to preserve the history of medicine on Vancouver Island. Currently, the VMS Pemberton Committee is excited to be involved in a fundraising project to restore the historic Pemberton Memorial Operating Room.
Click here to find out more about the Pemberton Memorial Operating Room Restoration.
The VMS continues to provide a service in helping the public find a physician. As the number of General Practitioners decreases in Victoria, it is essential that the public has access to those doctors who are willing to accept new clients.
If you are looking for a physician in the Greater Victoria and surrounding area, please visit the Find Family Doctors page or call the office for more information.
The VMS also provides information about doctors to businesses throughout the city.
The Victoria Medical Society is overseen by a group of elected members.
Elections are held in November at the VMS Annual General Meeting. The executive meets quarterly to discuss events and VMS operations. All the members of the executive volunteer their time to help maintain the Society.
Members of the Executive:
President: Dr. Michael Putland – Family Practice
Executive: Dr. Stephen Burnett
Dr. Matthew Ward
In September of 2003 the VMS officially associated with the Medical Staff Association. The VMS currently has three distinct member groups:
- Honourary Members: Those members who have retired and have been recognized by the VMS as outstanding members.
- Associate Members: Physicians who have retired.
- Ordinary/Medical Staff Members: Practicing physicians who work in Greater Victoria and surrounding areas.
Membership fees are collected jointly with the SI Medical Staff Association.
The Chain of Office
The Chain of Office was first worn in 1983 by our then outgoing president, Dr. Mike McNeely. The concept of creating a Chain of Office was first conceived by Dr. Pierre d’Estrubé. He contacted the noted BC artist Mr. Tony Hunt, who created the piece.
The chain was photographed by Rob Destrubé and the framed photograph now hangs in the VMS office. It’s value is estimated at more than $5,000. When transported, it is stored in a velvet bag. Care must be taken when wearing it, as the argillite is soft and marks easily.
The chain is worn by the president at all ceremonial occasions, such as the annual Osler Oration held in Vancouver each March, and at other times as stipulated by the president.