Born in Oakville, Ontario, Brock Chisholm (1896–1971) was a doctor, psychiatrist, soldier, military administrator, senior civil servant, world health pioneer, peace activist and environmentalist. He fought gallantly in the First World War before studying medicine at the University of Toronto and completing post-graduate work in psychiatry in Great Britain and the United States. He practised privately in Toronto, while arguing publicly for preventive mental health programs. In 1942, he became Director General of Medical Services for the Canadian army and introduced psychological testing as a means of assigning recruits to appropriate military activities.
This system and his effective administration of medical services led to his appointment in November 1944 as the first Deputy Minister of Health in the new Department of National Health and Welfare. With Dr. John J. Heagerty as special adviser, Chisholm and his staff prepared the health insurance proposal for the Dominion–Provincial Conference on Reconstruction in August 1945. As well, Chisholm expanded the Department of National Health and Welfare by adding new directorates and divisions, such as Health Insurance Studies, Mental Health and Hospital Design. But he was not destined to see health insurance implemented, because he was appointed Executive Secretary of the Interim Commission of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1946. He served as the first Director General of WHO from 1948 to 1953 and, after retiring to Vancouver Island, pursued his interests in world peace and environmental activism.