Born into a Montreal Jewish family in 1924, Richard Goldbloom was always sensitive to minorities and at ease with difference. Jewish and Christian, French and English, music, theatre, and the arts in all forms were prevalent and valued in the family home. He became a skilled pianist and a gifted storyteller. Richard trained in medicine with his father and at McGill University then specialized in pediatrics at Harvard with the famous Charles A. Janeway at Boston Children’s Hospital.

He met the vivacious, intrepid Ruth Schwartz at McGill when they both auditioned for a play. Also Jewish, she hailed from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. They married in 1945 before his studies were complete and had three children. Unlike many male physicians of his era, Richard was in awe of this tiny dynamo and attributes his happiness and success to her.

In 1967, the family moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Richard became Professor of Pediatrics, Physician in Chief and director of research at the new children’s hospital. Ruth was instrumental in a wide array of philanthropic endeavors that inevitably involved her husband. She developed a remarkable museum at Pier 21, the point of arrival for generations of immigrants to Canada—a place to gather their stories and their achievements.

Many anecdotes about clinical practice and scientific innovations are told with accessible enthusiasm and gentle humor. He dispels myths, exposes hidden agendas and explains with clear examples the importance of listening to children and their parents. Underlying the entire narrative is a refreshing humility and gratitude for his “lucky life.” 


An autobiography of a distinguished, talented and much-loved pediatrician and teacher who describes his upbringing, education and career with candor, and gratitude. Son of Alton Goldbloom, whose own memoir, Small Patients, is also annotated in this database, Richard Goldbloom is also brother of Victor another pediatrician, father of Alan and David, a pediatrician and psychiatrist respectively, and grandfather of Ellen, another pediatrician.

This dynasty of accomplished physician-educators is notable not only for its medical achievements, but also for its commitment to social issues and cultural life - an extension of what it should mean to be a doctor, occupying a position of opportunity and privilege in our times.

Pairing this memoir with that of Toronto's Barnet Berris (Medicine: My Story) will provide many insights into the lives of Jewish physicians who began their careers in a time of mid-century antisemitism.


Formac Publishing Company

Place Published

Halifax, Canada



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