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About Dr. Ross Tilley

Dr. Ross Tilley was born in 1904 in Bowmanville, Ontario. He attended medical school at the University of Toronto and graduated as a silver medalist in 1929. He trained in surgery in Toronto, New York and Edinburgh and finally opened a private practice at the Toronto Western and The Wellesley hospitals in 1935.

During World War II, Dr. Tilley served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) medical service as Principal Medical Officer and spent most of his time at the RCAF Headquarters in the United Kingdom. In 1942, Dr. Tilley transferred to Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, Sussex where he worked alongside Sir Archibald McIndoe, another surgical pioneer. Due to the increased number of Canadian casualties, a Canadian wing was built. Dr. Tilley was a leader in planning of the wing. In 1944, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his leadership in pioneering new techniques for treating burns.

After the war, Dr. Tilley returned to Canada as a highly skilled burn surgeon and practiced surgery in Kingston and Toronto at The Wellesley Hospital and Sunnybrook Hospital where he became known as an innovative surgeon, was revered as a humanitarian and a great teacher. In 1982, he was honoured with the Order of Canada for his leadership and contributions to Canadian plastic surgery.

Dr. Ross Tilley envisioned an adult burn treatment centre in the Toronto area and launched an intensive campaign, led by Drs. W.R.N. Lindsay, Leith Douglas and Tilley himself in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Their efforts, combined with the enthusiastic committee of the board of Wellesley Hospital, convinced the Ministry of Health that the concept was valid. Their successful campaign led to the building of the original burn centre in The Wellesley Hospital, which was named in honour of Dr. Ross Tilley for his work and dedication in this field. The Centre officially opened on April 18, 1984.

In 1998, as part of healthcare restructuring, the Ross Tilley Burn Centre became part of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and transferred from The Wellesley Central site of St. Michaels’ Hospital to the Sunnybrook campus in December of that year.