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Norman Bethune: Canada’s convenient hero

By Andrew Caddell      

Canada ought not to build up the wartime doctor as a hero just to please the Chinese.

Dr. Norman Bethune, right, helped by Henning Sorensen, performs a transfusion during the Spanish Civil War. Geza Karpathi photograph courtesy of Library and Archives Canada

My great-uncle was a gentle and humble man, despite his many accomplishments in a long life. A graduate of McGill University’s medical school in 1910, he was a medical missionary in China for two years before coming back to practise and then serve in the Canadian medical corps in France in the First World War. He went on to be one of Canada’s leading eye surgeons and teachers. The only time I ever saw him angry was in his late 80s, when I asked him about Dr. Norman Bethune.

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