Charlie “Army” Armstrong was one of the older and more mature members of the class of 1944. He was born in 1915 and received a BA in Physiology and Biochemistry, an MA in Experimental Biology, and finally, a Ph.D. in 1941, also in Experimental Biology, from the University of Toronto. After graduation, he obtained a junior internship at Toronto General Hospital followed by a year at HMCS Cornwallis, Halifax in the RCNVR. He then worked as a senior resident in medicine at TGH for a year.
Following Toronto General Hospital, Armstrong relocated to become Head of the Section of Chemotherapy in the Laboratory of Hygiene of National Health & Welfare in Ottawa, and in 1952 he again moved to became Director of the Division of Pharmacology of ERS Squibb in New Jersey. In 1954, he travelled back to Toronto to work on the research for a polio vaccination at the Connaught Laboratories, and, along with Raymond Parker, was largely involved in this groundbreaking research. Parker’s laboratory was the first to effectively and consistently produce this vaccination. Effective vaccines and Nobel Prizes, however, were awarded to Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin.
By 1958, Armstrong was a senior member of the staff of the Canadian Medical Research Laboratory at U of T. On February 28, 1958, however, Charlie Armstrong had a fatal heart attack while driving along Toronto’s College Street. The newspapers from that day spoke of his coolness in pulling to the curb of a busy rush-hour street to avoid any collisions or injury to others. Armstrong left behind a wife and two daughters, both under the age of ten.
Head of Chemotherapy, National Health and Welfare
Excerpt written by: Dr. Henry Barnett