By Fred Langan
Dr. Jean de Saint Victor, who has died at the age of 79, was a much-loved doctor who worked at the Brome Mississquoi Hospital for almost 30 years after he and his wife Alison Milligan moved to Knowlton from Montreal. Dr. de Saint Victor and his team won national recognition when the BMP was the first hospital in Canada to be awarded “Baby-Friendly Hospital” status, an honour recognized by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
“Jean was passionate about his work. He was amazingly skilled as a surgeon and was a mentor to me and so many others,” says his longtime colleague, Dr. Christine Cadrin, the current Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the BMP Hospital. “He always put the priorities of his women patients before everything.”
Dr. de Saint Victor was born to Madeleine Delagrave and Henri de St. Victor. Henri was also a doctor, and like his son, an obstetrician-gynecologist. The family lived in Quebec City, then moved to Ottawa, following the senior Dr. de Saint Victor’s career. Jean did his undergraduate degree at Ottawa University and then went to McGill University and completed his specialty. Dr. de Saint Victor worked at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal before moving to the Eastern Townships full time.
“We decided we wanted a lifestyle change, and we moved here in 1991,” said Alison Milligan. Jean was chief of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the BMP. For almost 10 years he was the only full time gynecologist at the hospital. Under his direction, the BMP was voted the best hospital teaching centre by senior residents in Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGill University.
“Jean was very proud of the honour that his colleagues and hospital administrators at the BMP bestowed on him when they named the new Obstetrical and Gynecology Clinic, the Dr. Jean de Saint Victor Gynecology and Obstetrics Clinic in 2013,” said Ms. Milligan. His colleagues said he was always looking for new advancements in medicine.
“He sought out and embraced new technologies that would make his patients more comfortable,” said Dr. Cadrin. “On top of his skill in obstetrics and gynecology, he was also a specialist in oncology.”
Ms. Milligan points out he took time out from his practice to advance and perfect his skills in fetal ultrasound. “He also had a sense of humour, which I know his patients appreciated.”
Jean de Saint Victor was active in the community, and though he was busy with things medical, he supported his wife’s involvement with groups such as CARKE and the Theatre. Away from work, he loved to climb Mont Sutton, kept a small sailboat at the Marina on Brome Lake, and played tennis almost every day.
“He loved to have friends over for dinner and fine red wine,” says his wife. “It was part of who he was.”
Jean Robert de Saint Victor was born in Chicoutimi on October 7, 1942. He died at his beloved BMP on January 18, 2022. He is survived by his wife, Alison Milligan, his brother Paul and two sisters, Vicky and Josée.