2015 Honourary President of the Year

Highlighting outstanding careers

The Honorary President Award was first awarded at the inaugural meeting of the DMAA in 1958. Since then, we’ve honoured a different senior alumnus every year. Our recipients are always highly respected in their field, and their careers and service in the practice of medicine have been outstanding.

Dr. Ivan Woolfrey (MD'65)

Dr. Ivan Woolfrey’s (MD’65) extraordinary 50-year medical career has taken him all the way from the tiny outport of Botwood to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and from Antarctica to Trout Lake in Canada’s Far North. Even his earliest introduction to medicine as a teenager, accompanying the new Irish doctor on house calls around his hometown of Lewisporte, N.L., was an adventure.

Dr. Woolfrey’s first posting was at a 20-bed “cottage hospital” in Botwood, a remote seaport on the north coast of central Newfoundland. He and the one or two nurses on staff had to make do with minimal equipment and a small selection of medicines.

By 1970, it was time to move with his wife, Louise, and their two young sons, to a larger centre. Dr. Woolfrey spent the next 22 years on overdrive, working 18-hour days in a private group practice in Grand Falls. In those years, he saw about 40 patients a day, delivered six to eight babies a month, oversaw the care of as many as 10 patients in hospital at any given time, took regular emergency calls, and performed minor surgeries.

Sailing the seas as ship’s doctor for Norwegian Cruise Lines quenched Dr. Woolfrey’s thirst for adventure for 10 years. By his 14th trip around Cape Horn, however, he was ready for a change. Tipped off by a colleague of the urgent need for respite medical care in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., Dr. Woolfrey offered to fill in for a two-month locum. He fell in love with the North and went back every year for the next 10 years. He spent many hours flying over these vast expanses, on his way to and from remote communities that had no other access to care.

Now that he’s retired, Dr. Woolfrey has more time for outdoor pursuits. He loves to hunt moose and rabbits and fish for salmon in Newfoundland’s great rivers.