James Allan Myrden

4 July , 19265 April , 2019

Dr. James Allan Myrden, a former president of the Nova Scotia Medical Society and the first director of undergraduate surgical education at Dalhousie University, died April 5.~

The respected Halifax surgeon died of complications of congestive heart failure at the QE II Health Science Centre at the age of 92.

For almost five decades, Dr. Myrden was associated with Dalhousie University's Faculty of Medicine as a professor and a surgeon at the Victoria General Hospital, Halifax. He was the medical director of the Nova Scotia Tumour Clinic from 1962 until 1982, and established the Nova Scotia Tumour Registry. The registry provided the first complete database on tumour incidence in Nova Scotia.

After graduating from Dalhousie Medical School in 1950, Dr. Myrden continued with several years of post-graduate studies in surgery at Dalhousie with endocrinologist Dr. Martin Hoffman, working with patients with abnormal thyroid function and their treatment. These studies were supported by the National Research Council.

He was encouraged to continue his studies at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston (now Brigham and Women's Hospital) with one of the giants of 20th-century surgery, Dr. Francis Moore. This research led to an advanced understanding of how bodily fluids and chemicals change during surgery.

Over the years, his general surgery practise progressed to specialize in head and neck surgery. He led this service until his retirement in 1995, four days shy of his 70th birthday.

Dr. Myrden was also an active leader in professional medical organizations.

He became treasurer of the Halifax Medical Society in the late 1950s. This led to the role of president and a membership on the Council in the Nova Scotia Medical Society (now Doctors Nova Scotia) and he served as treasurer and chairman of the finance committee. In addition, he sat on the council of the Canadian Medical Association.

Dr. Myrden was a member of the Provincial Medical Board (now College of Physicians and Surgeons) during the 1960s and early 1970s.

He chaired the committee to establish a registry of specialists' requirements. This marked a significant advancement in medical specialty requirements.

Entered Med School In 1945

In the fall of 1945, when he entered medical school, there were 48 students in his class and 10 were veterans. In his writings, Dr. Myrden notes: "These veterans were all slightly older and much more mature, being men of the world. We looked up to them, and so did our professors."

In November 2018, Dr. Myrden attended the gala marking the 150th anniversary of the Dalhousie Medical School. He was one of the last surviving members of the 1950 class. Dr. Myrden noted: "I am pleased to see that people are significantly living longer and trying to lead better lives. I am proud to have been a member of the medical profession." Work, however, did not define him.

On his birthday, July 4, 1951, he married Linda Gemmell in Kentville, N.S. Linda was a nurse who became director of nursing education at the Children's Hospital. Together they raised seven children and lived in Boston, Montreal and Halifax, and spent summers together at Boutiliers Point.

Dr. Myrden was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and uncle. He enjoyed sailing, photography, reading and was an avid golfer, which he learned and embraced in his 70s.

He was the son of James and Beatrix (Cleveland) Myrden, born in Halifax on July 4, 1926 at the Grace Maternity Hospital.

He was predeceased by his first wife, Lindsay Clark Gemmell; his eldest son, James Neil; and his second wife, Carol Donaldson.

He is survived by six children, Jane (David Barrett) of Enfield, John Allan, Halifax, Jennifer (Neville Parker), Paradise, N.S., Michael (Debbie Myrden), Judith (Paul Withers); Halifax, David (Opal Myrden), Bridgewater, two sisters, Joan Smith (Bob), Mississauga, Ont.; Carolyn Doig, Halifax; sister-in-law Doreen Fraser, Mississauga, Ont., nine grandchildren, one great-grandchild and 12 nieces and nephews.

A private family burial will occur at Fairview Cemetery. A reception will be held Saturday, April 13 at 4:30 p.m. at the Saraguay House, Royal Nova Scotian Yacht Squadron, 2310 Purcell's Cove Road. Memorial donations may be made to Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation.


  • Reception Saturday, 13 April , 2019

James Allan Myrden

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Leslie McLean

14 April 2019

Dear Jennifer, Jane, John, Judy, Michael and David,
I was so sorry to hear the sad news of your dear father's death. I have so many fond memories of growing up on Bloomingdale Terrace and the many hours spent at the Myrden house for meals, birthday parties, sleep overs, skating on the rink your dad made in the back yard, pre highschool prom photos, drinking pop from the "pop shop" that we weren't allowed at our house because dad was a dentist 😀, trips to Boutiliers Point and so many more happy experiences. Your father was a truly special person who made so many significant contributions to medicine and health care yet always maintained such humility. I am sorry I was unable to attend the special gathering you had for him but please know you all remain in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. With heartfelt sympathy, Leslie