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1915 Sir Albert E. Gooderham was Instrumental in Creating Connaught Labs

There would not have been a Connaught Laboratories (Sanofi Pasteur Canada today) if not for Sir Albert Edward Gooderham, who died on April 25, 1935, 85 years ago.

Sir Albert E. Gooderham

He was knighted just four months before his sudden death, this honour given in recognition of his many services to Canada, a major element of which was his support of public health. Such support was embodied in his personal role in expanding the original Antitoxin Laboratory and in overseeing its remarkable growth as the first Chairman of the Connaught Committee of the University of Toronto's Board of Governors. Today, the main administration building on Sanofi Pasteur Canada’s Connaught Campus (building 83) is named the "Gooderham Building."


Building 83 - the Gooderham Building

Albert Gooderham was better known as “The Colonel”, reflecting his long service to the 10th Royal Grenadiers regiment and became its Colonel at the start of World War I. The Gooderhams were one of the wealthiest families in Toronto, based on the Gooderham & Worts distillery business founded by his grandfather and which Albert would ultimately lead. It was one of the largest distilleries in the world, although it did not produce spirits during Ontario’s prohibition era from 1914 to 1927, after which Albert sold the family’s interest in the distillery business. During WWI, Gooderham lent his factory to the Canadian government for production of acetone, a key ingredient in the smokeless gunpowder used by the British military.

A severe shortage of another essential product needed by the British military during WWI, tetanus antitoxin, facilitated a close partnership between Gooderham and Dr. John G. FitzGerald. Through his service with the Ontario Red Cross and close connections with the military, Gooderham grew alarmed at the horrors of trench warfare and the deadly impact of tetanus on wounded soldiers. Tetanus antitoxin could be prepared like the diphtheria antitoxin produced by the Antitoxin Lab, but Gooderham knew that expanded facilities were needed. Horses were essential to preparing the antitoxin, and while the process was harmless, a large farm property was required. In early 1915, Gooderham pledged funds to upgrade the existing Lab and then acquired a large abandoned farm property north of the city. He proceeded to equip it with new buildings (buildings #3 and #4) that also enabled smallpox vaccine production, and pledged to donate it all to the university.



On his wedding anniversary, October 25, 1917, Gooderham officially opened and christened the entire enterprise the “Connaught Antitoxin Laboratories and University Farm,” honoring the Duke of Connaught, Canada’s Governor General from 1911 to 1916. At the official opening, the Ontario government pledged a $75,000 endowment to support research at the Labs, an amount matching Gooderham's gift, and pledged a further $25,000 for the research endowment. The Colonel also gave the Labs a converted van from the distillery, facilitating regular transport between the Farm and main labs in the Medical Building on the university campus.

Excerpted from an article by Christopher J. Rutty, Ph.D, Medical and Public Health Historian, originally published in the Sanofi Pasteur Canada employee eBulletin, April 22, 2020.

For more on the history of Sanofi Pasteur Canada (Connaught Laboratories) see "The Legacy Project," http://thelegacyproject.ca A.E. Gooderham is featured in the "People" section https://www.thelegacyproject.ca/#/people and the History of Connaught Laboratories Article series on the University of Toronto Connaught Fund website, http://connaught.research.utoronto.ca/history A.E. Gooderham's contributions are discussed in Article #2.



1915 Sir Albert E. Gooderham was instrumental in creating Connaught Labs

In early 1915, Gooderham pledged funds to upgrade the original Antitoxin Laboratory and then acquired a large abandoned farm property north of the city. He proceeded to equip it with new buildings (buildings #3 and #4) that also enabled smallpox vaccine production, and pledged to donate it all to the university.


Owner/SourceSanofi Pasteur Canada employee eBulletin
Date22 Apr 2020
Linked toConnaught Laboratories (now Sanofi Pasteur); Albert Edward Gooderham, Sr.

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