SARANAC LAKE - This village's founding father was enshrined Tuesday as the second member of the Saranac Lake Walk of Fame.
Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, who made Saranac Lake a center for tuberculosis research and curing, was celebrated in a well-attended ceremony at the Saranac Laboratory, which he had built in 1894. It was the first laboratory in the country designed exclusively for research on tuberculosis. Restored by Historic Saranac Lake, the laboratory is now a museum.
"Saranac Lake would be a very different place today if it weren't for Dr. Trudeau," said Amy Catania, Historic Saranac Lake's executive director. "When he came here in 1872, Saranac Lake was a village of just around 300 people. By the time of his death in 1915, there were over 6,000 people and Saranac Lake was a very different town; it was a booming town."
Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau and Ursula Wyatt Trudeau reveal a bronze plaque honoring Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau as the second member of Saranac Lake’s Walk of Fame at a ceremony Tuesday night at the Saranac Laboratory Museum on Church Street.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
In addition to founding the first tuberculosis research lab in the country in Saranac Lake, Trudeau also founded the nation's first sanitorium for the care of tuberculosis patients, which brought thousands of people to the community, many of whom stayed here. Trudeau was also the village's first mayor and founded its first church, the Episcopal Church of St. Luke The Beloved Physician.
"Almost a hundred years after Dr. Trudeau died, we still remember him well," Catania said. "Our town still has a soft spot for our beloved physician."
Tuesday evening's event culminated with the unveiling of a bronze Walk of Fame plaque that bears Trudeau's name with the words "Healer" and "Scientist." The plaque was revealed by Mayor Clyde Rabideau, who hosted the event and came up with the Walk of Fame concept, and Ursula Wyatt Trudeau, the second wife of Dr. Francis B. Trudeau, E.L. Trudeau's grandson.
In addition to celebrating Trudeau's legacy in founding Saranac Lake, the ceremony focused on the ways that legacy continues to this day. Board members, faculty and staff from Trudeau Institute, a nonprofit biomedical research center on the shores of Lower Saranac Lake that continues Dr. Trudeau's work, were on hand for the event.
Benjamin Brewster, chairman of the Institute's Board of Trustees, said E.L. Trudeau's scientific research alone would warrant his inclusion in the village's Walk of Fame.
"But I think it went deeper than that, with his humanitarianism," Brewster said. "He was more than just your physician; he was a friend.
"And lastly, I think we ought to recognize what he built, and I'm thinking of his family. There's not many people that can talk about four generations, Francis, Frank Trudeau, and now (Doonesbury cartoonist) Garry (Trudeau), two of them being doctors. Garry is also in that humanitarian field with the work he's doing with veterans. ... Trying to get your ideas and values across one generation is tough enough. Try getting those three generations down. It's amazing."
Officials from Active Motif, one of two biotech companies that are planning to relocate to the village from Lake Placid, were also in attendance for the ceremony, a nod to what Rabideau described as the community's future and a continuation of Trudeau's legacy.
"We're developing here what we call a bio-cluster," the mayor said. "We're bringing other entities in here, for profits and non-for-profits, expanding upon the history and legacy of wellness and life sciences."
E.L. Trudeau's plaque will be located in a yet-to-be determined site downtown, part of a nascent Walk of Fame that so far has one other member, Olympic champion skier and Vermontville native Bill Demong. A plaque honoring Demong adorns the outside of the Harrietstown Town Hall.
Rabideau said the Walk of Fame will be a "tourist attraction that recognizes the tremendous foundation and history of Saranac Lake." He said the village is planning to name at least three members to the Walk of Fame per year, though the next honoree won't be announced until next year.
Tuesday's reception featured drinks and hors d'oeuvres and cost $15 per person or $20 per couple to get in. The proceeds will be used to pay for plaques for future inductees, which each cost $800, and future Walk of Fame and Mayor's Cup events.
Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.