Dr Colin Leslie Smailes

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 50, No. 9, November 2008, Page 523 Obituaries


Colin Smailes was born in Yorkshire, England, and became a fourth-generation physician of the Smailes family. Educated at the Leys School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he later qualified from the Royal London Hospital.

Colin arrived in Vancouver in 1960 and the following year set up his practice in Surrey, with staff privileges at Surrey Memorial Hospital. He quickly established his practice providing surgical, obstetric, and emergency room care to young families. His quiet, calm demeanor made him popular, especially with children. A busy practice did not prevent him from involving himself in hospital administration, leading to his appointment in the late 1960s as chief of staff. 

He chaired the hospital’s first medical audit committee, which led to his interest in and commitment to doctors’ accountability for not only the care they provided, but also for the cost of that care. Later his colleagues showed their confidence in him by electing him to the BCMA Board of Directors, representing District 6. It was the time of the introduction of medicare in the late 1960s, and politically sensitive. When Premier W.A.C. Bennett published the incomes of individual doctors and then moved to prorate the payments to the high-income earners, there was a political explosion and Colin Smailes was at the centre of it.

In 1968 Euan Horniman started the reform group, a small group of Lower Mainland doctors who felt that any agreement between the BCMA and the provincial government must be ratified by the membership by mail ballot. Out of this determination the BCMA politically became a two-party organization, establishment and re­form, as it addressed the changes that government proposed regarding the provision of health care to British Columbians and the payments to doctors for the services they provided. Initially the reform message was sent across the province by the aggressive, hard-hitting District 6 newsletter edited by Horniman and Smailes. With the establishment of reform dominance in the BCMA, Colin Smailes left the political arena to promote the issue of physician accountability through local medical audit committees and conjoint MSP–BCMA Patterns of Practice review. Subsequently the College initiated audit of aberrant practice patterns in cooperation with the Medical Services Plan. Colin Smailes was the pioneer in doctors accounting for the care they provided to British Columbians.

In the evening of his career, Colin joined Dr Ching Lau in developing Surrey’s day-care programs for the elderly, and together they set up and ran the transitional care unit, providing 1 month’s active post-op care and rehabilitation to joint-replacement patients.

As a teenager he began a lifelong love affair with boats. As a medical student in London he lived on a houseboat on the Thames. In his home in Surrey he built a 33-foot wooden trimarin, having first built the barn in which the boat was to be constructed. He and his wife, Cath­erine, spent countless happy hours with their three children sailing the San Juan and Gulf Islands. He not only sailed the trimarin, he was a gourmet cook and entertained his family and friends with creative meals.

Without fanfare or fuss Colin Smailes was unique and significant, not only to his family friends and his patients, but also to his profession, to governments, and to British Columbians.

—John O’Brien-Bell, MB Surrey

John O’Brien-Bell, MB. Dr Colin Leslie Smailes. BCMJ, Vol. 50, No. 9, November, 2008, Page(s) 523 - Obituaries.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Carrie Alexander says: reply

Sorry to hear of Dr Smailes passing. I worked for him as a teenager for a few years until 1981 when I had a daughter. Many years later I had a son and named him Colin after Dr Smailes. I learned a lot while working at his office on King George Highway.

Leave a Reply