Erik was born in Cambridge, England on the 10th of March 1941 to a Norwegian mother and a Scots father. He was proud of his mixed heritage, but considered himself a Scotsman. He had his primary (elementary) education in Cambridge and Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, and his secondary (high school) education in Glasgow. Erik studied medicine and surgery at the University of Glasgow straight from school, graduating with his degree M.B., Ch.B. (equivalent of the North American M.D.) in 1966. Further compulsory training followed with six-month residencies in both Medicine and Surgery. Erik considered becoming an obstetrician and undertook further studies in obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics, gaining a Diploma in Obstetrics from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. However, when qualified, he worked as a locum in General Practice, and Erik thought that he preferred the challenge of having to be knowledgeable about all branches of medicine.
He joined a practice in Glasgow in September 1968, but began to feel he was losing some clinical skills, and so began to look at jobs abroad that would allow him to use all of his technical abilities.
In October 1970 he, together with wife Jinty and daughter Tara, arrived in Creston. After a long, tiring journey over two days, they arrived in the dark with the burner at the Crestbrook Mill belching out smoke, and Erik went to bed thinking, “What have I done to my family?” Erik fell in love with Creston however, and served the area as a family doctor for forty years, seeing patients at the office; looking after them in Creston Valley Hospital as well as during shifts in the Emergency Department; assisting in surgery; giving anesthetics and delivering babies. He gave up the last after a few years, as lots of the other doctors did births, but there were few anesthetists.
For the first twenty years, he worked at the Medical Clinic (now Family Practice Associates). From the mid 1970’s, Erik subscribed to a magazine called “Byte”, an early computer magazine and, as the years went by, began to see more and more the possibilities of using computers in general practice. By the late 1980’s, he was growing increasingly frustrated that he could generate no interest in computing among the other doctors and decided it was time to ‘go it alone’. In January 1991, Erik opened his own office in the Creston Valley Mall, complete with an Apple Mac in each of the three consulting rooms (updated as technology permitted). Erik himself wrote the computer program he used for the medical records, the first such developed for Macs. Erik was not the first doctor in British Columbia with computerised medical records, but he was the first to adopt Apple technology for the purpose. This was a very exciting time in his life and he was pleased when the British Columbia Medical Association made computerisation a cover story in its journal in 1992.
In January 2011 Erik semi-retired, but was not ready to give up medicine and turned to locum work for about seven months each year. It troubled him to go to offices still using paper files and he tended to locum in clinics already computerized. He worked in Peachland; Kelowna; North Vancouver; White Rock and Surrey – continuing to work until he fell ill.
Erik held several consultancy positions throughout his career, including Consulting Physician to the Endicott Centre from 1976 to 1996, and Chairman of the Hospital Advisory Committee to the Regional Hospital District of Central Kootenay from 1979 to 1985. One of his great joys was teaching medical students, tempered with disappointment that so few of them pursued general practice as a career path. Erik also continued to do research and had many papers published. He presented at many conferences, not only in Canada, but in the United States and Scotland.
Erik won many awards, beginning in 1978 with the Dixie Annette Award of the Huxley Institute for Biosocial Research in New York for his work with patients with mental health issues as a family physician.
In 1997 he became the first Life Member of the Society of General Practitioners, a division of the British Columbia Medical Association (now Doctors of B.C.). In 2002, Erik won the Rural Service Award of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada for 30 years’ service in a rural area. He was awarded a 30-year Long Service pin and a 40-year pin and plaque for 40 years service from the Interior Health Authority (IHA) of B.C., the only doctor at the time to have worked for 40 years in the IHA. In 2011, Erik was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Society of Orthomolecular Medicine for his many years of helping and curing patients using healthy diet, vitamins and minerals. But the honour of which he was most proud came in 2014 when he was made an Honorary Member of the Canadian Medical Association.
Throughout his life, Erik was always on the quest for knowledge, and not just in medicine. From an early age, Erik was an avid reader on a wide range of subjects, but his lifelong passion was for space exploration and it was a joy to watch Erik’s excitement as greater and greater advances were made in science, astronomy and space travel. He intensively researched medicine in space, and had published many papers on the subject. Erik almost always attended the annual Space Studies Institute meeting at Princeton University in New Jersey, presenting papers on the applications of medicine in space, meeting many NASA scientists, astronauts and Russian cosmonauts. During his lifetime, Erik had 149 articles published, covering everything from medicine and healthcare; astronomy; space; environmental issues; travel; computing; volcanoes and his all too frequent encounters with illness.
In 1966, Erik and Jinty were married. Their first daughter, Tara, was born in 1968 in Glasgow, and in 1972, Fiona was born in Creston. Erik and Jinty loved to travel, and were agreed that the girls must know there was a wide world beyond the Creston Valley. Erik enjoyed many happy travels within Canada; to the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska; to Britain; Ireland and Norway; also to India and South America. Erik was a joy to travel with, and his extensive knowledge on just about every subject rubbed off on his family.
Erik survived acute myelogenous leukemia in 1996-97; prostate cancer in 2010-11; but succumbed to multiple myeloma. He died on 24th April 2016, and was cremated on 29th April. His Memorial Service, which Jinty had planned with him, was held on 9th May in Creston. Erik loved and was loved by his surviving family, wife Jinty; Tara, Robin and Ashley in Glasgow; and Fiona and Hann in Creston. His grandchildren were the lights of his life.
“Grief is the price we pay for love.” (Queen Elizabeth II from Dr. Colin Murray Parkes)