February 3, 1843

(Québec City, Québec)


November 2, 1929


Université Laval (1861)

MD, University of Edinburgh (1864)

Awards & Honours:

1916: Companion of the Order of St Michael and St. George

1903: Companion of the Imperial Service Order

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Picture of Frederick Montizambert, MD

Transformed Canada’s management of infectious disease

Sketch of Frederick Montizambert

A pioneer in Canadian public health

Dr. Frederick Montizambert was one of the first doctors in North America to realize and understand the importance of bacteriology as it relates to infectious disease.

After receiving his MD at Université Laval, Dr. Montizambert travelled to Edinburgh for further training before taking up the post of medical superintendent of the Grosse-Île Quarantine Station in 1869, a post he held for thirty years.

At the time, the Station, which was the main point of entry for all immigrants coming to Canada from Europe, had a long history of deadly cholera epidemics. Dr. Montizambert’s innovative quarantine methods, based on a knowledge of the newly discovered “microbes” and their relationship to contagion, succeeded in reducing morbidity and mortality among the vulnerable newcomers.

Key Facts

Served as Canada’s first Director General of Public Health

Travelled often to the United States to attend sanitary conferences

Transformed Grosse Ile from a detention facility to a sanitization centre

Advocated for compulsory vaccination

Advised the federal government of a number of public health issues including medical research funding and infectious disease control

Elected President of the American Public Health Association

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

Not only did Dr. Montizambert improve our understanding of the role of bacteriology in the fight against infectious disease, but by transforming Grosse Ile into a sanitization facility, he also became a model and champion of public health. His actions embraced the newest science of the day and challenged governments to improve their capacity to manage health rather than attend only to the consequences of infectious disease. His perseverance in the face of hesitation as well as his success in establishing improved health standards remain potent examples of the importance of prioritizing health.

Picture of Frederick Montizambert, MD


  • Frederick Montizambert posthumously inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    Winnipeg, Manitoba

  • The federal government established the Department of Health

    Leadership in Organizational Development

    After years of tireless work and advocacy, Dr. Montizambert’s wish for a dedicated national department was realized.

  • Dr. Montizambert was tasked with establishing the Department of Agriculture’s first section devoted to public health

    Leadership in Organizational Development, Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy

    As a result, he was appointed Director General of Public Health and was responsible for the administration of quarantine stations throughout the Dominion.

  • Dr. Montizambert’s public health success did not go unnoticed

    Infectious Disease, Allergy & Immunity

    In 1894, he was appointed Superintendent of Canadian Quarantine stations.

  • Dr. Montizambert built a laboratory at Grosse Isle

    Infectious Disease, Allergy & Immunity

    This development allowed for faster identification of infectious bacteria.

  • Robert Koch discovered the cholera bacillus

    Infectious Disease, Allergy & Immunity, Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy

    This discovery facilitated a new age of public health. Dr. Montizambert was among the earliest physicians in Canada to embrace bacteriology and implement public health measures that target the elimination of germs, including vaccinations and the use of disinfectants.

  • At the age of 26, Dr. Montizambert became medical superintendent at Grosse Île

    Infectious Disease, Allergy & Immunity, Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy

    Faced with a growing influx of new immigrants to Canada, he set about the task of improving the station’s public health practices. He served in this role for the next 30 years.

  • After two years of study at the Université Laval, Frederick Montizambert pursued medical training abroad

    He completed his medical degree at the University of Edinburgh before he returned to Canada to established his private practice.

  • Grosse Ile Quarantine Station opened

    Infectious Disease, Allergy & Immunity

    The station represented one of the few permanent establishments available for those looking to work in public health. Thousands of immigrants would pass through on seeking entry into Canada.


He was a man of action and determined vision.