Craig Street

Craig Street pathology laboratory, 1914 to 1924.

Musée de la civilisation
1914 - 1924
© 1998, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


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 Read More
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.

© 1998, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Craig Street 2

Craig Street toxicology laboratory, 1914 to 1924.

Musée de la civilisation
1914 - 1924
© Musée de la civilisation


St. Vincent Street 2

Autopsy room, St. Vincent Street Laboratory, 1924 to 1968.

Musée de la civilisation
1924 - 1968
© Musée de la civilisation


Wilfrid Derome

Wilfrid Derome (1877-1931), founding director of the Laboratory, from 1914 to 1932.

Musée de la civilisation
1877 - 1931
1996-1179
© Musée de la civilisation


Rosario Fontaine

Rosario Fontaine (1892-1981), Laboratory director from 1932 to 1964.

Musée de la civilisation
1892 - 1981
1996-1180
© Musée de la civilisation


Jean-Marie Roussel

Jean-Marie Roussel, Laboratory director from 1964 to 1972.

Musée de la civilisation

1996 - 1181
© Musée de la civilisation


Bénard Peclet

Bernard Péclet, Director of Forensic science laboratory from 1978 to 1982.

Musée de la civilisation

© Musée de la civilisation


Jean-Paul Valcourt

Jean-Paul Valcourt, Director of Forensic medicine laboratory from 1978 to 1985.

Musée de la civilisation

© Musée de la civilisation


Since then, the two organizations have seen a number of directors come and go. However, as documented in the history of the laboratory and the main period covered by the collection now entrusted to the Musée de la civilisation, the key figures to remember are Dr. Derome and Dr. Fontaine, who presided over the institution’s founding and its’ development into a world-renowned organization.

In October 1996, the laboratory acquired the status of independent service unit but remained attached to the Quebec Department of Public Security. The field of forensic sciences is constantly changing. Since 1914, analytical procedures have become increasingly refined and diversified. Today, North America boasts over 200 such laboratories, thanks in part to Quebec’s pioneering efforts in this field.
Since then, the two organizations have seen a number of directors come and go. However, as documented in the history of the laboratory and the main period covered by the collection now entrusted to the Musée de la civilisation, the key figures to remember are Dr. Derome and Dr. Fontaine, who presided over the institution’s founding and its’ development into a world-renowned organization.

In October 1996, the laboratory acquired the status of independent service unit but remained attached to the Quebec Department of Public Security. The field of forensic sciences is constantly changing. Since 1914, analytical procedures have become increasingly refined and diversified. Today, North America boasts over 200 such laboratories, thanks in part to Quebec’s pioneering efforts in this field.

© 1998, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Parthenais Street Laboratory

Parthenais Street Laboratory, 1997.

Louise Leblanc
Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale
c. 1997
© Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Develop enthusiasm and continuing interest in the study of science
  • Identify and appreciate the way history and culture shape a society’s science and technology
  • Describe scientific and technological developments, past and present and appreciate their impact on individuals and societies

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