I was born in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan in 1952, the third and last son. Both my grandparents had homesteaded in southern Saskatchewan. The original Perrier arrived in Canada in 1665 making me a tenth generation Canadian (actually eleventh on the maternal side and 13th through my great grandmother). I once believed that all Perriers in North America are descended from that one immigrant (although there is reference to a second Perrier who came in 1694). My eldest brother has done a huge amount of work on the genealogy of the family. Refer to the section at the end of this post for information on my family tree and the French brands with Perrier names (although none are known to be relatives).
At six months of age, we moved to Glentworth, Saskatchewan, a town of 100 people on the west end of Grasslands National Park. My father was an elevator agent and my mother was a teacher. After finishing grade 2 there, we moved again to Medicine Hat, Alberta where I graduated from grade twelve in 1970. I then attended the University of Alberta in Edmonton, graduating with a B.Sc/MD degree in 1976 and did a one year rotating internship at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, BC.
With my wife and 2 children, we moved to Castlegar where I joined a six man general practice. The West Kootenay in south central British Columbia is one of the best places to live in the world. It was the ideal town to be a GP in. With no specialists and several other GPs with “special interests”, I was able to develop my own interests and ended up having a dream general practice. The practice did almost everything – obstetrics, basic general surgery and emergency. We eventually had a third child and I now have 2 grand children. I was divorced in 1994. I have had the opportunity to live in several towns in the West Kootenay – along Arrow Lakes, Rossland, Warfield (part of Trail) and New Denver. I moved to Courtenay on Vancouver Island in 2010.
By the time I retired, most of my practice was devoted to things that few GPs like and nobody else wanted to do: dermatology, abortions and methadone. The West Kootenay, with only 82,000 people in a huge geographic area, did not have a board certified dermatologist and with some formal training and a lot of reading, I developed a referral practice in dermatology. It probably comprised about 40% of my eventual practice. It allowed me to work in the Canadian Arctic doing general practice and dermatology on five separate occasions. I eventually worked in every town west of Hudsons Bay at least once, an incredible cultural experience (read about that experience and the Inuit on the IDEAS page). I also did all sorts of skin surgery removing every kind of “lump and bump”.
I did most of the surgical assisting in our six man practice, and started doing therapeutic abortions. By the time I retired, I was the only physician doing TA’s in southeastern British Columbia (read about my experience doing abortions in the IDEAS page). With that I also did laparoscopic tubal ligations, often a necessary procedure in women having terminations. I performed vasectomies, circumcisions and all sorts of minor outpatient procedures. When one of my GP surgeon partners retired, as our hospital had an active obstetric practice, I did one month training doing caesarian sections and then did those.
Another opportunity arose to become a methadone prescriber, and after the necessary training, I obtained a license. I was the only methadone prescriber in the West Kootenay. This exposed me to another element of our society that was always interesting. I also developed a strong interest in addiction medicine.
With no specialists and predicated by the patients in my practice, I also developed an interest in several medical subjects – diabetes, AIDs and patients with liver transplants. This was in addition to all other aspects of family medicine. It was a very fulfilling career. Our practice had a rule that we all had to take nine weeks of holidays each year and a day off each week, great for life style and family. Since retiring, I have never thought of medicine again and have forgotten more than I ever knew. I could not return without retraining.
Since starting hiking in Waterton Lakes National Park, I backpacked the West Coast Trail and Della Falls (the highest waterfall in Canada), both on Vancouver Island, when interning. I was hooked. After moving to the West Kootenay, I joined the Kootenay Mountaineering Club, a wonderful organization. I hiked and climbed at every opportunity and have attended 20 hiking camps run by the club. I also belonged to the Alpine Club of Canada and went on several guided mountaineering trips with them in the Rockies. Over the years, I have hiked extensively in Olympic National Park, Hawaii, the West Kootenay, the Rocky Mountains of Canada, the desert SW of the US and everywhere I travel (refer to the HIKING page).
In 1999, I bought my first sea kayak which I still use. I have kayaked all the lakes in the West Kootenay, Baja Mexico, the Green River and Lake Powell in Utah and now extensively in the Queen Charlottes and around Vancouver Island. I have a second kayak and all the gear that is available for friends and partners. Sea kayaking is a dream way to camp. Weight is not an issue and with a backpack oven, you can cook anything.
Starting in 1994, I usually traveled to the desert SW of the United States twice a year. Up to the end of 2015, I have made 33 trips mostly to the Colorado Plateau and the Four Corners Area, but also to many parts of the western US. With so much to see, I could never exhaust the possibilities. I think the Colorado Plateau is the most beautiful place in the world and this area has become another passion.
I took my PADI open water dive certificate in Utilla, the Bay Islands of Honduras and my Advanced in the Andaman Islands of India and diving now forms an active part of all my travels. Some of the great places I have been to include Apo Island in the Philippines, Mergui Archipelago (5-day live aboard) in Myanmar, Sipadan in Sabah Malaysia, Palau (7-day live aboard. The Blue Corner and German Channel are two of the best dive sites in the world), Komodo National Park and the Raja Ampats (9-day live aboard) in Indonesia.
I have had a few other passions. I was an active duplicate bridge player and traveled to tournaments all over the northwest. I have about 1350 ACBL master points and am a life master but have rarely played duplicate bridge for the last 20 years, but regularly play online. At age 30, I started playing golf and was a member at a great golf course in Castlegar. I played to a four handicap most of my playing years, and was in many BC Amateurs and a Canadian Amateur once. I played golf courses all over the place but have rarely played since 1999. I also became an avid photographer and competed actively with my pictures. Upon retiring, I had plans to write a book on photography but abandoned that idea. When digital photography came along, I lost interest and have rarely taken a picture since. I do not carry a camera with me on my travels and find it very freeing. I look at things now for visual memory.
Since retiring in 2006, I have traveled every winter to warmer climates. I wrote extensive travelogues emailing them to friends and family and they form a big part of the section on travel. Refer to my Travelogue for an up-to-date list of countries visited. My goal was to wear flip flops twelve months of the year. I have developed a certain style of travel that is best described as vagabonding. I leave home with a rough plan and have the freedom to spend as much time anywhere I want and feel very fortunate to be able to travel with no constraints. I believe that I have at least ten more years to see the rest of the world.
My time in Canada is spent hiking and kayaking and occasionally hanging out at home, playing tennis, and often playing bridge on the internet. I love to cook. I read extensively and have a section with a reading list. I also travel a lot in Canada and the United States. My camper has a well-honed solar system and it is my second home.
I initially did not want to blog but have reconsidered that. I love to write and am a political junkie with subscriptions to Time, Atlantic, National Geographic and the Economist. Many of the posts in the section called Ideas come from those. This web site has become another passion. I have dreams to make it the premier travel web site in the world.
In September 2015, I met a wonderful young Chinese woman in Dunhuang, Gansu Province in China. I had been looking for a like-minded travel partner for some time. We spent time together in Lhasa Tibet and I visited her at her home over Christmas/New Years and we fell in love with each other. Hopefully we will have many travel adventures together.