Montreal Laboratory: Background

In 1913, Sir Lomer Gouin, Attorney General and Premier of Quebec, decided to set up a forensic medicine laboratory. The Laboratoire de recherches médico-légales opened its doors in 1914, at 179 Craig Street East in Montreal. It should be pointed out that this laboratory was the first of its kind in North America. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, visited the Montreal laboratory twice before opening the FBI’s facility in 1932. The Montreal laboratory also predated Chicago’s, which opened in 1929.

The objectives of the Laboratoire de recherches médico-légales were first and foremost to facilitate police investigations through scientific means and help the justice system pursue criminals. The laboratory moved in 1924 to St. Vincent Street, where it remained until 1968, whereupon its equipment was transferred to Parthenais Street.

This institution remained associated with the name of its founder, Dr. Wilfrid Derome, who directed it until his death in 1931. Dr. Rosario Fontaine took over between 1931 and 1964, followed by Dr. Jean-Marie Roussel until 1972 and then by Bernard Péclet. In 1978, the institution was divided into two separate administrative units: the "Laboratoire de police scientifique" [forensic science laboratory] directed by Péclet and the "Laboratoire de médecine légale" [forensic medicine laboratory] directed by Dr. Jean-Paul Valcourt.

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