Today, the City of Toronto will unveil a very short new street. Morton Shulman Avenue leads south from Wilson to the exciting new Forensic Sciences Centre and Coroner’s Complex that will open this fall. This LEED Silver building will bring together the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, the Office of the Chief Coroner, and the Centre of Forensic Sciences, with important new tools and capacities: See New Ontario forensics facility brings crime under a world-class spotlight.
Morty would have been so delighted to be remembered and honoured in this way! As described in his book, Coroner, Morty’s four years as Toronto’s Chief Coroner were the most exciting and satisfying of his life. He had a huge impact on the Coroner’s role in Ontario, and his energetic muckraking saved many lives.
The publisher put it this way: “The rise and fall of Dr. Morton Shulman as chief Coroner of Toronto was the most sensational period that that office has ever known. From the moment he was appointed in 1963 Dr. Shulman brought his extraordinary energy to bear on an enormous variety of hazards to public safety and security, which in previous years had been overlooked, or ignored, or covered up.
As Chief Coroner he acted as public watchdog and soon became an international figure. Dr. Shulman believed that the coroner’s job was not merely to determine the cause of unnatural deaths, but to take steps to prevent similar deaths in the future. The elimination of cancer quacks, the scandal of construction site safety, the exposure of medical incompetence and carelessness, a determined and far-sighted campaign to lower traffic deaths — these were only a few of the many battles Morton Shulman fought with an uninhibited vigour which shocked and enraged many public officials and professional bodies. Apparently quite fearless in pursuing his objectives, he clashed with civic and provincial leaders, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Supreme Court of Ontario and even the United States Navy.
So spectacular was his performance in office that he became the model for the successful T.V. series Wojeck.
Meanwhile, having previously made a million on the stock market he proceeded to write a book on the subject which netted another substantial fortune. Ultimately the provincial government, smarting from yet another attack on its integrity, dismissed him and, for good measure, eliminated the position he held as well. So great was the public outcry that a Royal Commission was set up to look into the matter. Subsequently Dr. Shulman, running on the NDP ticket, won an overwhelming victory at the polls and took his seat in the legislature in opposition to the Conservative Government which had hired and fired him.
Morton Shulman’s own account of these extraordinary events is lively, self-critical, excoriating of hide-bound officialdom, good-humoured and often hilarious. He tells these stories of political pay-offs, scandals, disasters, human tragedies, triumphs and pratfalls with startling candour and gusto.”