An iconic photograph of Dr Ted Thordarson and eight other doctors hangs in the lobby of Ridge Meadows Hospital in recognition of the campaign they led to extract government funding for the first community hospital in Haney. Fittingly, this pioneer family doctor passed away peacefully in the hospital he helped to found.
Ted was born and grew up in Selkirk, Manitoba. At the age of 17, Ted, the only licensed driver, drove his family to Vancouver to reestablish as salmon fishers on the Fraser River. He bought his first gillnetter at 18 and paid his way handily through university and medical school.
Ted graduated from UBC’s third medical class in 1956 and interned at Royal Columbian Hospital. He moved to Haney and established a large and loyal practice. Ted held every medical staff position at the hospital. His Cuban cigar left smoldering on the hand rail outside a patient’s room always signaled his whereabouts! This practice has since passed from favor.
In 1970 Ted and three partners established Dewdney Medical, which expanded to seven partners. It was a unique clinic in its time—a shared and cooperative full-service practice that allowed for generous time off for medical education and holiday. It was considered “a bit socialist” at the time, which was humorous as our founder was a vigorous entrepreneur and used his free time to start Christmas tree farms, blueberry farms, and an endless stream of real estate projects. Dewdney Medical was an early adopter of the concept of work/life balance, years before stress was discovered. It was the main reason many of us came to work there.
Keeping in the spirit of early adopting and foresight, Ted and his siblings, Dr Roy Thordarson, Lara, Frieda, and Helga, bought our summer property near Kelowna in the late 1950s. Toad Hall continues to be the mandatory annual migration point for huge summer gatherings of any with a drop of the Thordarson Icelandic blood and their continually expanding families.
Ted was a larger than life figure, the last of Ridge Meadows Hospital’s founding physicians. He is survived by Maxine, his wife of 64 years; children, Ted Jr., Helga, and David; and a large family of Icelanders, genuine and honorary.
—Doug Botting, MD
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