Meyer Miller grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and graduated from Medical School there in 1936.
He moved to New York in 1940 to complete his post-graduate studies and was later appointed resident physician at the Newark Infirmary in New Jersey. Meyer returned to Canada in 1943 and joined the Army where he was stationed in Calgary with the rank of Major.
One of his responsibilities was providing medical care to the soldiers held at prisoner of war camps near Lethbridge, Alberta which he visited every week. After the war was over, one of the former POWs gave Meyer a drawing he had made while interred to thank him for the medical treatment he had received while in the camp.
Meyer Miller's story
The Miller family emigrated from Kremenchug, Russia at the turn of the century. Meyer’s father came to Canada first and was followed by his wife and four children. Their youngest child Meyer Sherman was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1908.
Meyer S. Miller graduated from the University of Manitoba Medical School in 1936. Following his graduation, he interned at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and then began practice as a family physician first in Lipton, Saskatchewan for two years and later Earl Grey, Saskatchewan for two additional years. While practicing in Earl Grey he met the Reisenberg family and not long afterwards married their fifth youngest daughter, Sylvia Reisenberg in 1940.
That same year Meyer and Sylvia moved to New York City where Meyer began post graduate training at the Polyclinic Medical School and Hospital. He was later appointed resident physician and surgeon at the Newark Eye and Ear Infirmary in Newark, New Jersey.
When he completed his training in New York he was certified as an Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat (EEN&T) Specialist, and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (Canada) and the American College of Surgeons and International college of Surgeons.
Meyer and Sylvia returned to Canada in 1943 and moved to Calgary, Alberta. He joined the army the same year and was appointed Major M.S. Miller at the age of 31. Major Meyer served in the Canadian army from 1943-1946 and was responsible for EEN&T consultations and medical operations of all service personal stationed in Calgary and Southern Alberta.
POW Camp Doctor
During the war, several prisoner of war camps had been set up across the province. In addition to his primary responsibilities to Canadian service personal, Meyer was also responsible for all EEN&T consultations and operations for prisoners of war stationed in Southern Alberta.
During the last two years of the war, there were an estimated 30,000 prisoners of war housed in Southern Alberta. Most of the camp inmates were German POW's. One of those centres was Camp #133 near Lethbridge, Alberta, which Meyer visited one day each week. Over the next few years, Meyer treated many hundreds of prisoners there for various ailments, and also performed over 700 operations.
Post War Service
After the war, Meyer continued to work for Veterans Affairs to care for wounded servicemen. One day he received an unexpected package in the mail. It was from one of the German prisoners he had treated during the war. It was a pencil sketch, given to Meyer from a former prisoner, in gratitude for the kind treatment he had received from Meyer while a prisoner of war.
The irony and significance of such a symbolic gesture should not escape the thoughtful reader, as Meyer Miller was Jewish, and the grateful POW, a former German soldier.
At the end of the war Meyer and Sylvia remained in Calgary where Meyer worked as an eye doctor. He served as President of the Alberta Medical association in 1968, and continued to serve his patients in Calgary for 43 more years. In 1983 he moved to Vancouver, where he died on March 12, 1993 at the age of 84 years.
This is the caption written on the sketch Meyer was given by a former German POW after the war.
To Major M. Miller,
as a sign of thankfulness for
the medical treatment he gave me.
With many regards, Heinz Ronnan, 29 Oct 1945