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Mental Health

In the early years of the mental-health movement, mental health was often defined as the absence of symptoms of mental illness. Since that time, attempts have been made to relate mental health to a concept of psychological well-being and to certain capacities of individuals, eg, the capacity to perceive reality "objectively," to be flexible in meeting new situations and to understand another's point of view. However, no clear line divides the mentally healthy from the mentally unhealthy, and in addition, the definition of mental health is relative and is dependent on cultural context. The characteristics of a mentally healthy person in one milieu may seem very different from those of a mentally healthy person in another.

Article

The Discovery of Insulin

For many years scientists believed that some kind of internal secretion of the pancreas was the key to preventing diabetes and controlling normal metabolism. No one could find it, until in the summer of 1921 a team at the University of Toronto began trying a new experimental approach suggested by Dr. Frederick Banting.

Article

Epidemics in Canada

An epidemic occurs when an infectious disease spreads rapidly throughout a community at a particular time. Several epidemics have occurred over the course of Canadian history, the most disastrous being those which affected Indigenous peoples following the arrival of Europeans.

Article

Antibiotic Resistance in Canada

Antibiotic (or antimicrobial) resistance developed with the wide distribution of antibiotic medications in the 20th century. Resistance occurs when the medication is no longer capable of killing or preventing the reproduction of bacteria. A major global health challenge, antibiotic resistance makes treating diseases more difficult and expensive, and it results in fewer antibiotics that are effective in managing infectious diseases. Rates of antibiotic-resistant infections are rising in Canada. In hospital settings, infections that resist multiple drugs are also becoming more common. In 2019, an expert panel of the Council of Canadian Academies estimated that resistant infections contributed to more than 14,000 deaths in Canada the previous year. Canadian health agencies, medical professionals and industries are active in multiple efforts to combat this problem. 

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Olestra Controversy

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on February 5, 1996. Partner content is not updated.

Pass the potato chips. Olestra, a new synthetic food oil with zero calories, is promising to take the fat - and the guilt - out of greasy junk food. "This is something people really want," says Chris Hassall, a senior scientist with Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co.

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Maclean's 2002 Health Report

Imagine for a moment that you're a smoker who's been meaning to quit a pack-a-day habit for a while now. Or, if you can't picture yourself as a nicotine addict, maybe your doctor has been after you to trim that Molson muscle around your expanding midriff.

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Nobel Prizes and Canada

The Nobel Prizes are awarded annually for achievements that have significantly benefitted humankind. The prizes are among the highest international honours and are awarded in six categories: physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace, and economics. They are administered by the Nobel Foundation and awarded by institutions in Sweden and Norway. Eighteen Canadians have won Nobel Prizes, excluding Canadian-born individuals who gave up their citizenship and members of organizations that have won the peace prize.

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Childbirth in Canada

Childbirth is the beginning of a child’s life and a powerful rite of passage for the mother. Methods vary according to culture and time periods. Before the 19th century, Canadians relied mostly on the help of midwives, as well as prayers and even superstitions, to face the intense pains of contractions. Advances in the field of obstetrics in the 19th and 20th centuries introduced new ways of shortening the length of childbirth and managing its pains. Those developments also resulted in the transition of childbirth from homes to hospitals. Today, the different methods of childbirth can involve the help of physicians, midwives and doulas.

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Canada

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that affects individuals exposed to trauma (although not all people exposed to trauma develop PTSD). Studies suggest that over 70 per cent of Canadians have been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, and that nearly 1 out of 10 Canadians may develop PTSD at some point in their lives. PTSD can affect adults and children and can appear months or even years after exposure to the trauma.

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Assisted Suicide in Canada

Assisted suicide is the intentional termination of one’s life, assisted by someone who provides the means or knowledge, or both. (See also Suicide.) Between 1892 and 2016, assisted suicide was illegal in Canada under section 241(b) of the Criminal Code. In 2015, after decades of various legal challenges, the Supreme Court of Canada decided unanimously to allow physician-assisted suicide. In June 2016, the federal government passed the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Act, which established the eligibility criteria and procedural safeguards for medically assisted suicide. In March 2021, new legislation was passed that expanded eligibility for MAID.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

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Psychedelic Research in 1950s Saskatchewan

In the 1950s, Saskatchewan was home to some of the most important psychedelic research in the world. Saskatchewan-based psychiatrist Humphry Osmond coined the word psychedelic in 1957. In the mental health field, therapies based on guided LSD and mescaline trips offered an alternative to long-stay care in asylums. They gave clinicians a deeper understanding of psychotic disorders and an effective tool for mental health and addictions research. Treating patients with a single dose of psychedelic was seen as an attractive, cost-effective approach. It fit with the goals of a new, publicly funded health-care system aimed at restoring health and autonomy to patients who had long been confined to asylums.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Cigarette Packaging

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on January 31, 2000. Partner content is not updated.

Perhaps, but if Rock gets his way cigarette packaging is about to go from colourful and cool to downright disturbing.

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HIV Striking Straight Young Women

KAITLIN MORRISON LOST her virginity at 13 and, she says, "it was downhill from there." At 14, she left her parents' home in Port McNeill, B.C., on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. She was a "party girl" and a "real rebel," she says, heavy into drugs (never needles, though).

Article

Stem Cell Research

Stem cells are the body's "building blocks"; they are the cells from which all tissues and organs are derived. They have the ability to divide while still maintaining their identity, yet they can also develop into specialized cells in response to certain stimuli.

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Drug Therapy for Strokes

This article was originally published in Maclean's Magazine on March 20, 2000. Partner content is not updated.

One Saturday morning last November, Peggy Code collapsed outside a suburban Calgary mall. Helped to a nearby bench, the 64-year-old nurse realized she was drooling and that the entire left side of her body was insensate.


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Cancer Breakthrough

The grandfatherly American with thinning hair who addressed cancer scientists in a Montreal hotel earlier this month did not look like someone about to set off an international media frenzy. Dr.

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SARS Epidemic Reaches Canada

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on March 31, 2003. Partner content is not updated.

"SEVERE acute respiratory syndrome" hardly rolls off the tongue with ease, but it may yet ingrain itself into the popular lexicon - not necessarily for its virulence, but for the lessons it offers.