Trailblazers Together

Dr. David Briant and his wife Connie may seem, on the surface, like your average couple. But dig a bit deeper and you will uncover a love story rich with serendipity, adventure and discoveries.

<blockquote>I enjoyed working at St. Michael’s. I had huge respect for the Sisters of St. Joseph and found the hospital to have a very caring environment. I enjoyed the community of St. Mikes. &mdash; Dr. David Briant</blockquote>

This power couple has been inseparable since they first brushed shoulders while studying at Trinity College. David, a graduate of the University of Toronto’s prestigious medical school, practiced Otolaryngology (ENT) at a number of Toronto hospitals before becoming Chief of St. Michael’s ENT Department in 1972.

His groundbreaking work revolutionized the field, pioneering a reconstructive surgery called the “commando procedure”—a complicated operation for patients with facial cancer. “I loved doing facial plastic surgery for cancer patients   so they could live better lives,” says Dr. Briant, who’s fondly remembered at St. Michael’s as a brilliant mentor and lecturer who translated knowledge to the next generation of experts.

One highlight during his role as Chief was meeting Queen Elizabeth II as she visited the hospital in 1984. “I enjoyed working at St. Michael’s. I had huge respect for the Sisters of St. Joseph and found the hospital to have a very caring environment. I enjoyed the community of St. Mikes.”

St. Michael’s is full of trailblazers like Dr. Briant. From our internationally recognized scientists at our Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, to our world-class clinicians and medical residents—the hospital is teeming with innovators who strive to transform lives.

Connie, no less impressive, was one of the few women in the University of Toronto’s first graduating MBA class. The second she received her diploma, she was recruited by Ryerson’s business program to become a professor—and from there, she became Chair of the Economics Department. “I loved teaching. It was great to see students open their minds to new things,” she said. Just like her husband, her relentless ambition still led her to astounding heights. During the 1970s,

Connie also served as Policy Advisor to Robert Stanfield and Joe Clark of the Federal Conservative Party.

As if their esteemed careers weren’t enough, David was also a small-plane pilot and an award-winning movie producer for a film on a new surgical procedure, and Connie trained as an opera singer and was the first female to join the esteemed Arts and Letters Club – a century-old club focused on the fine arts. They were also both vociferous volunteers whose work included operating on people in Kenya, with Connie assisting as nurse.

Now in their eighties, the pair has been supporting St. Michael’s Hospital for more than three decades.

Today, David and his wife Connie enjoy their days at the Briton House Retirement Home, fondly exchanging tales of the trails they’ve blazed over the years – and the memories they continue to make.

To learn more about how to leave a bequest to St. Michael's Hospital Foundation in your will, contact Cynthia Collantes, Director, Gift Planning at 416-864-5879 or CollantesC@smh.ca.