Alberta Medical Association

Alberta Medical Association
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta

February 03, 2005 15:00 ET

Alberta Medical Association and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta: News Release




FEBRUARY 3, 2005 - 15:00 ET

Alberta Medical Association and the College of
Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta: News Release

CALGARY AND EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 3, 2005) -

Alberta Doctors Celebrate Centennial of Organized Medicine

Physicians around the province are celebrating the 100th year of
organized medicine in Alberta, through programs supported by the College
of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta and the Alberta Medical

As part of the Centennial celebrations, the "Physicians of the Century"
program was announced today. This program encourages physicians,
patients, health professionals and the general public to nominate
doctors who have contributed to the health and vitality of Alberta
communities and citizens. One hundred physicians will be recognized for
contributions in the areas of business, community involvement, arts and
culture, sports and leisure, research, education, agriculture,
faith/religion, politics, volunteerism and medical practice.

The program was announced in joint news conferences in Edmonton and
Calgary today. Overviews of the Centennial and the Physicians of the
Century Program were provided by Dr. Jane Ballantine, President of the
Alberta Medical Association; Dr. Gordon Arnett, President of Council of
the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta; Dr. David Bond, Chair
of the Centennial Steering Committee; and Dr. Clayne Steed, Chair of the
Physicians of the Century Selection Panel.

"The physician was an integral part of pioneer communities and made
great contributions to the health and wellness of immigrant and
indigenous populations", said Dr. Ballantine. "Early physicians did it
all. They delivered babies, set fractures, provided aid to the sick and
frail, often in isolation from other medical practitioners and

In 1905, there were fewer than 300 physicians practising in Alberta,
covering a vast territory and remote populations. "Today, there are over
7,000 physicians providing care to over three million Albertans", said
Dr. Arnett. "The advances we see in health care today are built on the
endeavours and advancements of thousands of physicians who served
Albertans over the past 100 years."

To kick off the "Physicians of the Century" program, the first of 100
recipients, Dr. Mary Percy Jackson, was announced today. "Dr. Jackson
was a pioneer in every sense of the word", said Dr. Steed. "She provided
patient care to Alberta's northern communities, spanning more than 300
square miles... on horseback. Her commitment to her patients, to her
community and the profession was just as revered 80 years ago as it is

"All Albertans are encouraged to nominate physicians who have had an
impact in Alberta communities over the past 100 years," said Dr. Bond.
"It's important to emphasize that physicians practise medicine, but they
are integral to many aspects of community life."

Members of the public are invited to nominate physicians who have made
significant contributions to Alberta over the past century. Visit the
Centennial of Organized Medicine website at for
nomination forms, as well as highlights of the Centennial Celebrations
and other historical information.

Physician of the Century Overview

2005 marks the Centennial of establishment of the Alberta Medical
Association and the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The Centennial
Steering Committee is developing a number of programs province-wide to
celebrate the Centennial of Organized Medicine with physicians, patients
and communities throughout Alberta.

In celebration of the milestones and achievements of the medical
profession in Alberta, 100 "Physicians of the Century" will be
recognized for their accomplishments over the past 100 years. This
program is open to any physician who practised in Alberta from 1905 to
present day. Nominations will be accepted for contributions in one of
more of the following areas:

- Community Leadership
- Business
- Arts and Culture
- Sports and Leisure
- Agriculture
- Politics
- Volunteerism
- Academia
- Education
- Faith/Religion
- Medical Practice


Any Alberta physician who resided in Alberta during the period of
achievement or contribution may be nominated.

Teams of individuals who contributed towards a single achievement or
related achievements can be nominated and will be recognized jointly as
one of the 100 recipients.


Nominations are invited from individuals, colleagues, community groups,
organizations and businesses.

To nominate an Alberta physician, please provide a detailed summary, in
no more than three pages, outlining the achievement or contribution, the
period of achievement and any supporting anecdotes or stories.
Nominations can be made on-line at, or by
contacting the AMA or CPSA.


A panel of 14 people will choose the 100 Physicians of the Century. This
panel consists of 10 physicians and four public members. Each nomination
will be considered independently based on individual accomplishments and

Closing Date

Nominations should be received by May 31, 2005.


Recipients will be recognized through print media in Edmonton, Calgary
and community newspapers. There will also be a recognition event held
for recipients in the fall of 2005.

Dr. Mary Percy Jackson(1), O.C., Ch.B, LL.D.

(1) deceased

Born in England in 1905, Dr. Jackson grew up in an urban setting,
leading a rather sheltered life. She graduated from the University of
Birmingham in 1927 with degrees in surgery and medicine, and in her
final year won the Queen's prize as the best all-round student. By the
time she was 24 years old, she had accumulated impressive experience and
could list M.B., Ch.B., M.R.C.S., and L.R.C.P. after her name. She had
also been house physician at Birmingham General Hospital, casualty house
physician in the children's hospital, and house surgeon in the maternity

In 1929, in answer to an advertisement in a medical journal for women
doctors to go to Alberta, Dr. Jackson embarked on an adventure that was
originally intended to be only a one-year assignment. In an attempt to
provide better medical services in outlying areas, the Alberta
Government hired Dr. Jackson and three other British doctors. Following
an orientation tour with a traveling medical clinic, she was assigned to
the territory of Battle River, a vast area covering 250 square miles
that soon grew to nearly 400 square miles. The nearest medical aid was
the town of Peace River, 120 kilometers to the south. It was connected
with her territory by a dirt road, which was impassable in bad weather.
She traveled by saddle horse.

In her first year, this young lady from a sheltered English background
who had been practicing medicine under the best conditions possible,
endured 90 degrees F heat, and the dust and mosquitoes of summer. She
also endured the other extreme of -50 degrees F cold and the complete
isolation of winter.

Whatever the weather and however primitive the conditions, the solitary
pioneer doctor ministered to her patients, often traveling many miles on
horseback on virtually unmarked trails, and fording rivers and streams
as there were no bridges.

Dr. Jackson was "Doc" to homesteaders who immigrated from Norway,
Hungary, Russia, Germany and the Ukraine, in addition to the Indian
population, none of whom could speak much English. A typical week's
caseload might include several fractured limbs or a broken back; a
birth; cases of dysentery, pneumonia, smallpox, scarlet fever or
tuberculosis; as well as the other illnesses expected in a family
practice; and perhaps some tooth extractions, as there were no dentists
in the area.

In 1931 she married rancher and fur trader Frank Jackson, a widower with
three children, and moved to his homestead at Keg River, 500 miles
northwest of Edmonton. No longer under contract with the provincial
government, she continued her dedicated service as a general
practitioner in the area, much of the time without payment. She treated
five generations of patients from all over the Peace region, and was
universally loved and respected by all who knew her.

During her long career, Dr. Jackson treated hundreds among the Indian
and Metis population and developed many long-standing friendships with
them. In 1975, she was named "Woman of the Year" by the Voice of Native

In 1976, she was awarded an Honourary Doctor of Laws Degree from the
University of Alberta and delivered the Convocation address. Also in
that year, she and her husband were honoured by the Province of Alberta
with an Alberta Achievement Award for outstanding service. The couple
had previously been recognized for their contributions with a Master
Farm Family Award in 1953.

Dr. Jackson received the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Canadian
Centennial Medal, and a school at the junction of the MacKenzie Highway
and Keg River is named for her. She retired from active practice in 1975
and held senior membership in the Canadian Medical Association, senior
life membership in the Alberta Medical Association, and a life
membership in the College of Family Physicians.

Predeceased by her husband in 1979, Dr. Jackson (1) had a son and a
daughter, three stepsons, 25 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren.

Dr. Jackson was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1983
and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1989.

Letters from Dr. Mary Percy Jackson

As submitted to the Alumna Association - University of Birmingham

Dear Old Students,

In 1942, when the Americans opened up the overland route to the
Mackenzie, for the transportation of the uranium from which the first
atom bombs were made, they were quite amazed to find white people living
at Keg River, 700 miles north of the international boundary and 150
miles beyond the railway. Their first question was, "Why on earth do you
want to live in a place like this, so far from everywhere?" Mrs
Templeman's request for a letter for the newsletter made me wonder if
most of you, seeing Keg River, wouldn't ask the same question!

It is a tiny settlement, surrounded by an immensity of uninhabited
forest and swamp. Population largely half-breed Indian. But not without
excitement at times. Forest fires. Flooding rivers. Winter temperatures
as low as 70 degrees below, occasionally. I thought you might be
interested to hear about an outbreak of rabies here in the winter of

Warning first came from the Forest Ranger that the sleigh-dogs 200 miles
north were dying of rabies contracted from foxes and wolves. Before long
the Indians here were reporting seeing dead and dying animals in the
bush, and hearing foxes barking in strange hoarse voices. Though there
were always thousands of animals in the forests around us yet we had
only occasionally seen them; perhaps a deer springing lightly across
fields and fences; or a family of black bears eating wild berries; a
family of little foxes playing like kittens; or a coyote or wolf lit up
by the car's headlights. But now rabid animals descending on the
settlement made life a nightmare. Everyone carried some kind of weapon
even in broad daylight, and farmers dared not go to their own barns at
night without a club or flashlight.

Everyone had his own narrow escape story to tell. I could fill the
Newsletter with stories of that winter! A friend of ours backed across
his fields for over a mile fighting off a rabid wolf with a pitchfork.
Another held off a wolf by shining his flashlight into its eyes as he
backed to the house, and then he and his wife had to hold the door
closed all night against the onslaughts of the wolf. Foxes, snapping
viciously, chased anything that moved, attacked the wheels of cars and
tractors, tried to get into houses through screen doors and windows,
attacked dogs and cats and livestock.

This was just the beginning. Soon the domestic animals were developing
rabies. Our big barn cat was shot by the hired man just as it rushed at
my husband snarling like a tiger. A Russian neighbour fetched me to see
a big black steer with furious rabies. Bellowing hoarsely, with widely
dilated pupils glowing bright red in the truck's headlights and long
icicles of saliva hanging from its jaws, it looked like a creature from

Farmers at Keg River lost over a hundred cows, horse, pigs, dogs and
cats before the outbreak died in the summer, and hundreds of thousands
of wild animals died of rabies, or were poisoned, by special Rangers
sent out by the Government, in an effort to control the outbreak.

The last proven case here was a coyote just two years ago, so I hope we
have seen the last of it.

Yours sincerely, Mary Percy Jackson

Dr. Mary Percy Jackson

For more information, copies of the speaking notes or Physicians of the
Century Selection Panel Members, see contacts below:


Contact Information

    Centennial Project Manager
    Carmelle Boston
    (780) 918-5485
    Alberta Medical Association
    Marc Simao
    Public Affairs
    (780) 482-2626
    College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta
    Lorie Moyles
    (780) 423-4764