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Born: Sep 26, 1922

Date of Passing: Aug 20, 2005

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ALLAN MACDONALD TORRIE, MD, CCFP September 26, 1922 to August 20, 2005 Dr. Allan MacDonaldTorrie of Kenora, ON died Saturday surrounded by family while being cared for by former colleagues at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital. His life with his family was built around his vocation as a physician, his strong commitment to the community, his love of the Lake of the Woods and The Island, and his passion for growing plants, raising Highland cows, new ideas and learning. Enlisting in the Navy in 1941 from a farm in Gibbs, SK, he met and married, Greta, the love of his life, in Halifax during the war. They celebrated their 61st anniversary this past June. Through the veterans educational program, he graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1951 as part of the first post-war medical class. An advocate of life-long learning for himself and others, he received his accreditation in Family Medicine when it became recognised in 1971 and in the 1980s began annual certification in the new American Society of Addiction Medicine. At the Kenora hospital, he coordinated student placements in the 1980s from the University of Manitoba, McMaster University, Dundee University (Scotland) and in the 1990s the cross-cultural workshops with Health Sciences North for family medicine residents. His vocation as a family physician coincided with the beginnings of the self-help movement for alcohol addiction. This was also the period of new alcohol related health and social problems of the Anishinabe people. Over time, his medical practice became focussed on emotional problems, psychiatric illnesses and alcohol and drug addiction problems as well as the delivery of health services in the community and province. From the mid 1960s, and contrary to the received institutional approaches of the time, he fought for community-centered approaches to social problems. He directed an innovative pilot project of the Addiction Research Foundation targeting the rampant public drunkenness in Kenora with an approach that focussed on self-help. This evolved, through the Anishinaabeg who had became involved, into the first Kenora Pow-Wow Club as a cultural approach to addictions. Later in the mid 1970s, he spearheaded an innovation, which has now become commonplace, to have the province fund an Anishinaabe healer as part of the Hospital services for the Kenora area. Later he worked as Medical Advisor o a program treating chronic solvent abusers with traditional therapies. He had been recognised as an Honorary Elder of Iskatewizaagegan and Wabaseemoon First Nations. He was an early proponent of a team approach in health care and he was quoted, as Chief of Staff in 1984 saying that the one deficiency in quality assurance surveys was that they do not measure attitudes of the staff towards other members of the staff and towards patients. He balanced an old style medical practice that included surgery, office work, housecalls, emergency on-call, an incessant telephone and weekend work, with summers on the lake, cross-country skiing, gardening, travel with Greta and later his Highland cows. He adored his grandchildren. His commitment to the community is evident through his decades of volunteer work at the provincial, regional and local levels. A member since 1951 of the Canadian Medical Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Charter and Life Member) and the Ontario Medical Association (Life Member), he was recognised with the Glenn Sawyer Award in 1992 for over 23 years of active volunteer work for the OMA which ended with his work with the Northwestern Ontario Committee to study the implementation of the Graham Report (on mental health services). His service to the community included more than three decades of work as Medical Advisory and program developer for the Kenora Community Mental Health Program, work on local race relations committees, as member and chair of the Keewating Public School Board, and on executive positions for the Kinsmen Club of Canada and the Keewatin Curling Club. He gave more than half a century of service to the Hospital as a family physician, an anaesthetist, and as the founder of the regional psychiatric ward. He gave as many years as a Hospital volunteer serving as Chief of Staff, President of the Medical Staff, member of the Advisory Committee and Medical Advisor to the Native Health Program and Medical Advisor to the Native Healer Program, Solvent Abuse Treatment Program. He also acted as a Coroner for several decades. After his retirement from active practice, he served as Medical Advisor: to the Kenora Health Access Centre of the Association of Kenora Chiefs, to the Nimishomis-Nokomis Healing Group, as well as to Migisi Treatment Centre. He also sat on the Mercury Disability Board. A curler who had perhaps played two or three hockey games in his life, he was extremely proud to have been inducted into the Northwestern ON Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his voluntary work as team physician to the Kenora Thistles Hockey Club from 1951 to 1960. He is survived by his best friend and the darling of his life, Greta (Welland); three children: Jill (Ignatius La Rusic) of Montreal, Susan (Theo) of Kenora and Robert (Shelley) of Kenora; his unique grand-daughter Jayme of Kenora; his four grandsons: Jeremy (Tanya Brunet) of Winnipeg, Jordan of Winnipeg, Jonathan of Winnipeg and Kyle of Kenora; and three great-grandchildren; his three brothers: James (Phyllis) of Calgary, Steward (Lillian) of Medicine Hat and Bartley of Medicine Hat; cousins: Avril and Jeff Williams of Bulyea, SK and Beverly and Paul Chernick of Regina; and close Welland in-laws. Predeceased by his step-brother and wife Donald and Viola Hogg, and brother-in-law Douglas Welland. The family wishes to invite everyone to participate in his funeral ceremony and celebration of his life to be held on Wednesday, August 24 at St. Alban's Cathedral, Kenora, ON at 2:00 p.m. The Very Reverend Hugh Matheson will lead the euceumenical service. Visitation with the family on Tuesday, August 23 at Kenora Community Funeral Home, 821 St. Clair St., Keewatin from 2:00 - 4:00 and 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. If wished, and in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Lake of the Woods District Hospital Foundation, 21 Sylvan St., W., Kenora ON P9N 3Y7. On-line condolences at KENORA COMMUNITY FUNERAL HOME (807) 547-6000

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Aug 23, 2005

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