Dr. Stewart Hunter at his 95th birthday in 2018. Photo Angela Mouly
After approximately 50 years of practicing in Vermilion, Dr. Stewart Hunter retired last week.
Dr. Hunter embarked on his journey in studying and practicing medicine in Liverpool, England. Since the age of eight, Dr. Hunter had dreamed of being a surgeon. He studied at the University of Liverpool, achieving four graduate degrees with a distinction in Public Health, and First Prize in Clinical Surgical Competency. He worked with world-famous professor Sir Norman Jeffcoate at Liverpool University as a Research Fellow in Gynecology.
Despite his desire to pursue surgery, at various times in his life, Stewart Hunter was pointed to obstetrics and gynecology.
Stewart Hunter was conscripted into the Royal Armed Forces and got a job as junior surgeon. His senior surgeon, which he knew from Liverpool University, helped him get accredited as a specialist surgeon. Later, Stewart Hunter was sent to Singapore where he expected to obtain the position of surgeon. Upon arrival, he learned that the position was already filled; however, there was a need for an obstetrician. With only three weeks of experience in obstetrics and gynecology, Stewart Hunter took on the role.
He was sent to one of the world’s busiest maternity hospitals, Kandang Kerbau Hospital in Singapore to gain more experience in the field. On his first day, he was directed to deliver a baby almost immediately upon entering the hospital, after hospital personnel saw his dog tags and learned he was a doctor. Stewart Hunter delivered 10 babies that day.
“Every day it was the same,” Stewart Hunter said, “That was my introduction to obstetrics.”
Stewart Hunter became an appointed lecturer at the University of Malaya during his time in Singapore.
Stewart Hunter traveled various places practicing and lecturing in obstetrics and gynecology, including England, Wales, Africa, and Australia. The most impactful place of practice for Stewart Hunter was East Africa, where with a job at a maternity hospital came a house and a garden within the hospital. He notes that this job was also very busy.
“I had done four emergency cesareans in one night,” he mentioned.
Dr. Stewart Hunter enjoyed his time in East Africa, but felt the need to relocate due to political tensions and issues with violence. He arrived in Canada in 1968, where he worked for a short period of time at two locations before settling in Vermilion in approximately 1970.
“The people in Vermilion were welcoming and polite on the whole; and helpful,” commented Stewart Hunter, “They seemed to care about each other.”
Stewart Hunter recalls flying from Northern Alberta to Edmonton to Vermilion, where much of his travel was cloud cover, but once he got to Vermilion, he got a clear view of the town.
“It was like magic!” he said.
He ponders the possibility of the clear skies being “a sign from above”.
“I’ve enjoyed my life, and I enjoy medicine,” Stewart Hunter concludes.
Stewart Hunter spent the last few years of his career working at Vermilion’s Hospital in the Long Term Care unit.
Celebratory well wishes were shared with him at the Health Centre, but due to the present COVID pandemic, no community wide celebration was initiated.