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Maude, her death and commemorations

The story of Maude Abbott: her legacy (subtitles available in EN and FR). Watch the video with transcription.

During the winter of 1940, Maude spent a lot of time with her childhood friend Mary Alexandra Bell Eastlake, who was completing a portrait of her. Her health deteriorated steadily to the point where the artist told biographer McDermot, “She was unusually drowsy and tired.” In July, Maude suffered a brain hemorrhage from which she never recovered. She died on September 2, 1940 at the Montreal Neurological Institute. She was 71 years old.

Tributes and expressions of appreciation poured in from every direction:

“So goodbye to Maude.” wrote May Houghton to Mary Alexandra Bell Eastlake in a letter dated October 1940, shortly after Maude’s death. “We can only try to be better like little children, because she was so good…”

“Dr Abbott was a loving, lovable woman and all who knew her well could not but marvel at her enthusiastic interest, devotion and loyalty to any cause which she espoused.” – Dr. H. B. Cushing, excerpt from the Maude Abbott memorial address delivered before the members of the Historical Society of Argenteuil County in May 1941.

“Dr. Abbott’s life was an inspiration to all her friends” -Mary Lee, letter to Dr. Cushing dated May 19, 1941.

“She was painstaking and serious as a teacher, easily inspiring confidence in her ability and erudition. She was warm-hearted, humorous and interesting as a friend.” — Donald de F. Bauer, “Dr Abbott – Student and Teacher”, McGill Medicine Journal, 1942.

Handwritten letter from Mary Lee to Dr. Cushing written on August 5, 1941, black ink on blue paper. She thanks Dr. Cushing for her visit to St. Andrews and the Museum and congratulates him for all his work at the Museum, having particularly enjoyed the Abbott Room.

Letter from Mary Lee to Dr. Cushing , August 5th 1941


Typewritten note by Dr. Cushing, black ink on sepia paper, 1940. Following Maude Abbott’s death, he paid tribute to her and listed her contributions to the Historical Society of Argenteuil County: her active interest, advice, artifact identification system, the tea room and kitchen.

Maude Abbott’s death by Dr. Cushing


Maude received many tributes from the scientific community, her colleagues, her alma mater, her beloved McGill, and the community of St. Andrews East (Saint-André-Est, now Saint-André-d’Argenteuil) in honour of her memory and her scientific work. She was named a Person of National Historic Significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1993. In 1994, she was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and in 2000, Canada Post issued a postage stamp in her honour entitled The Heart of the Matter. In 2015, the Municipality of Saint-André-d’Argenteuil recognized Maude Abbott as a historical figure and the community created a commemorative space in Christ Church cemetery, near her grave.

Maude Abbott lived as she had promised to her fellow graduates as she gave the farewell address for the class of 1890 at her beloved McGill:

In this future, opening today, let us always be bounded to each other … by a common purpose and a common action, that we never drift into idleness but live as woman who have work to do in the world and who are doing it.

Photograph of an elderly Maude Abbott, black and white. She is seen in profile, looking concentrated, reading a book at a wooden desk and seated on a carved wooden chair. She is wearing dark clothes and a pearl necklace, and her hair is tied behind her head.

Portrait in Appreciations of Maude E. Abbott, 1940

Cover of a dark blue book bearing the inscription “Appreciations of Maude E. Abbott” in the centre, in gold lettering.

Appreciations of Maude E. Abbott, 1940








First page of the obituary notice “Maude Abbott – An Appreciation” by Dr. C. F. Martin, Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, black ink on sepia paper. It describes her burial site, her funeral service, and then begins to describe her educational background.

Extract, Appreciations of Maude E. Abbott, 1940