Dr Norman Bethune: Medical and Political Revolutionary

Friday, 24 April 2020

Speaker: Ross Lambert

Lecture title: Dr Norman Bethune: Medical and Political Revolutionary

Lecture Summary

Bethune’s story is known by many Canadians but by no means all.  He is, however, known and revered by one billion Chinese.  A significant chapter of his life was the Spanish Civil War where he served as a doctor for the Republicans and pioneered several significant medical battlefield techniques.  This presentation focuses on this part of his life but provide contexts about what occurred in his life pre- and post-Spain.  The outline is as follows:

  • Family life, the Muskokas. Bethune’s family and the part of Ontario he grew up in including the era.
  • Education and early professional career. His medical training and early work as a doctor specialising in tuberculous in the United States and in Montreal.  Included in this is his increasing interest and commitment to international communism.
  • His calling to Spain.  Military actions he was part of.  His pioneering use of several medical procedures at the front including blood transfusions and x-ray equipment.  The end of the war and his return to Montreal.
  • Efforts in China.  Results in China.  Death in China.  Significance to the Chinese.
  • Bethune today. Where does he stand today in China, Canada and Spain.

Bio: Ross Lambert

Ross LambertRoss is a retired Naval Officer who has lived and worked in a variety of locations and settings including Kingston, Victoria, Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa and London, England.    He is a graduate of the Royal Military College (hBA) and York University (MA), as well as the British Joint Command and Staff College.  His career included a number of different staff positions in various national and NATO headquarters and two tours on staff at the Royal Military College.  He also had numerous postings at sea, the last one as captain of HMCS IROQUOIS.

Ross and his wife of 43 years, Joanne, are originally from the Barrie area of Ontario.  They now live on a 75 acre hobby farm near Elgin, Ontario, where he cuts firewood, makes maple syrup and raises a few cattle.  They are heavily engaged in community and church events, often involving some type of music. Since retirement Ross has also become involved with the local Masonic Lodge.  He is the father of four and the grandfather of five.  He is also increasingly seen as the maintenance man for the farm and several summer cottages.

Ross and Joanne have travelled extensively and still typically spend several months each year out of country.  Ross is a serious student of Canadian, American and European history and has a passion for 19thcentury English literature.