A Short History of the Hamilton Academy of Dentistry

In 1869 the Hamilton District Dental Society (the predecessor of the Hamilton Academy of Dentistry) was founded by Dr. C.S. Chittenden. He and Dr. D.A. Bogart, also from Hamilton, were among the founders of Ontario Dental Association (oda.on.ca), which was established in 1867. Dr. Chittenden was the first to present a table clinic at the inaugural ODA convention held in Belleville in 1869. His topic was "the proper way to fill a cavity".

Since the HAD's founding, eight members of the Academy have become presidents of the ODA, including Dr. David Somer and Dr. Larry Levin. Many of our members have also served as ODA governors, including the Chairman of the Board of the ODA from 1969 to 1996, Dr. Nick Mancini.

Other highlights include the formation in 1931 of the Hamilton Dental Nurses and Assistants Association, which is still in active service. As well, public health service began in the 1930's and included the first Dental Public Health Day. During the Depression years, dental services were provided at no cost to the City of Hamilton to those receiving public assistance.

In 1951, the HAD Ladies Auxiliary was formed and was active in raising funds for projects such as the purchase of dental equipment for hospitals, assisting dental students from the area, and supporting the Canadian Fund for Dental Education.

As with most dental societies during their formative years, the HAD was primarily a study and social group. As the HAD grew to about two hundred members the role of the Academy changed. Presently, dinner meetings are held once per month from September through April. Most meetings include announcements on matters relating to the profession, as well as after-dinner speakers featuring presentations on various aspects of dentistry.

On an annual basis, ta full day lecture (the Dr. George Scott Seminar) is held for professional development. A newsletter is published regularly to keep members informed about Academy events and local, provincial and national issues relating to dentistry.  Social events may include a dinner dance, golf and ski days, and an day at Stratford. 

The HAD has also been involved in many educational and community projects. One of the most successful and significant activities was our involvement with the Hamilton Academy of Medicine and other organizations and individuals to bring fluoridation to the Hamilton municipal water supply. Between 1952 and 1969 Dr. Archie Leckie, a Past President of the HAD, successfully coordinated the Academy's involvement with the move towards fluoridation. Today the majority of young people in Hamilton have few or no cavities or dental restorations as a result of fluoridation.

For many years the Academy operated a dental internship/hospital dentistry program based at the Hamilton General Hospital. Residents received training in oral surgery, medicine, orthodontics, prosthodontics, dental procedures under general anesthetic and experience with oral and facial trauma. This program, which was very valuable for medically compromised patients, was staffed and coordinated by Academy members, both specialists and general practitioners. Unfortunately, this program was closed by Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation in 2000. Because of the tremendous need for such a program in this community, the HAD Executive continues to work toward the creation of a new hospital-based dentistry program.

The Academy has also begun to address dental problems facing the elderly and the handicapped. It has given its support to the creation of the special dental programs now operating at St. Peter's Hospital and Chedoke Hospital. HAD past president Dr. Jim Morreale was the driving force behind this program, and it has since been operated and maintained by Dr. Laslo Szoke.

During the 1970's and 1980's the Academy offered an annual free sports mouthguard clinic. With the cooperation of several local dental laboratories and supply companies, members of the HAD provided free custom-made mouthguards for local high school students involved in contact sports.

In July 2000, HAD members provided emergency dental services to participants at the International Children's Games in Hamilton, and again for the World Cycling Championship in October 2003.

The HAD takes pride in our relationship with the Ontario Dental Association. In particular, we acknowledge our members who have been awarded the prestigious ODA Barnabus Day Award - Drs. Nick Mancini, Ted Harper, and John Durran, and in Past President - Dr. Larry Levin, who was ODA president in 2009, and president of the Canadian Dental Association in 2017.  The HAD's Dr. Vic Kutcher (Award of Merit 2013) was ODA president in 2015-6.

Academy members have also played vital roles in the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, including HAD Past Presidents Dr. Albert Calzonetti (Registrar 1979) and Dr. Frank Stechey (President 2009).

The HAD, one of Ontario's most active and vital local dental societies, is now in its third century. Formed in 1869, it was Ontario's first Academy. Over the years, members have found that participation in the Academy has enriched their lives both socially and professionally. While looking back with pride at its distinguished history, it looks forward with anticipation to serving the changing needs of the dental profession.