By Darren Lum
April 26 2016
With an easy going demeanor Darren Gilmour the newest doctor at the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team is excited to be embarking on a new career and welcomes the opportunity that life in the Highlands offers him and his young family.
The 39-year-old who loves his short bicycle commute to work now takes over from the retired Dr. Robert Heyes known to most as simply Bob.
You will see Gilmour in the emergency ward and he will assume Heyes’s full time practice duties at Extendicare Haliburton and Highland Wood.
For a long time he has wanted to practise rural medicine which offers a full spectrum of medical challenges that are not part of urban medicine. He believes the varied work will be rewarding and interesting.
Gilmour moved here recently from Peterborough where he was training to be a doctor through Queens University. His wife Annie and 18-month-old son Beau are with him.
His first official day was April 4 however he worked locally a few days this past March in the emergency ward.
Originally from Burlington he and his wife love the outdoors and are hoping to be able to experience the beauty of the Highlands once they’re more settled.
If anyone is at a loss for words with the new doctor he suggests a topic close to his heart the Toronto Blue Jays.
A passionate fan he loves Canada’s team. He admits he’s no Robbie Alomar but he’s ready to do his best when he plays softball this spring and summer. Nurses signed him up to join their mixed team he said so he doesn’t even know where he’ll be playing yet.
This isn’t his first career.
Gilmour was a certified teacher for intermediate and senior grades.
His most recent teaching job was as a Grade 8 teacher. He points out it was often as a substitute or fill-in. He also spent a year teaching math science and physical education at an international school in Japan. Living and working in Asia taught him to be open-minded to differences.
Although the county is not as big of a culture shock he will use this concept to adapt to the Highlands.
There are some people here “who have done a lot of work with their hands and never complained a second of their life. When I see those people come in the clinic I’m amazed at everything they’ve done” he said.
Back in the summer of 2014 he chose Haliburton for the requisite rural component to his medical residency because of the recommendation by another doctor who completed a residency in the community.
Gilmour and his wife lived in the county at that time. After that experience the couple knew they had found their future home. There was a good vibe a strong sense of community and beautiful setting for recreation such as Nordic skiing hiking camping and canoeing including a close proximity to the well-known Algonquin Provincial Park.
Also the Fleming College School of the Arts was a bonus as his wife studied fine arts and art history at the post-secondary level.
At the end of his two-month residency he spoke to other doctors and staff about education and the experience raising their children here. They had nothing but praise for the schools in town.
Gilmour hasn’t spent a lot of time working with Heyes but knows a lot about him through others and Heye’s has done much to ease the transition for Gilmour.
“He always had time for his patients” Gilmour said. “He was very accessible and his notes and everything he has handed over to me have been very well-organized. It’s making the transition easier which is a blessing. I’ve heard stories where that’s not always the case when you’re taking over for someone.”
After 43 years Heyes has no intention of completely hanging up his stethoscope he said in an email.
He retired April 1 but will remain in the community and patients may catch him working every now and again.
“I will turn up in the office now and the for holidays maybe walk-ins so not completely gone” he wrote in an email.
Heyes came to Haliburton in the summer of 1973 and started working that September with Dr. Harry Good whom he told he was going to just fill in for holidays maybe two or three weeks.
“But I liked the work the patients the hospital the friends we soon made and of course the lifestyle. So we didn’t leave” he said referring to him and his wife Jane.
Unlike the stereotype he has no intention of golfing referring to a well-known quote “a lovely walk spoiled.” He plans to bicycle Nordic ski chase after his grandchildren and travel but nothing specific.
Heyes is confident in his replacement being completely capable.
After 43 years of work and life in the Highlands Heyes and Jane have a lot to be thankful for.
“What Jane and I appreciate the most (this is present tense as well as past tense) is the combination of a safe and caring place to live the ability to be active year-round in this special land of lakes and woods and the good friends we have made. On an equally significant note my professional life was as rich as any could be – for that I thank my colleagues co-workers and most importantly my patients” he said. “Haliburton has a way of getting into your DNA. Jane and I hope to spend many years to come at our cottage on Drag Lake. We cannot imagine anything better.”
Gilmour who understands he has “big shoes to fill” and that Heyes was well-respected in the community will continue to communicate with Heyes during the early part of his practice.
“I plan on leaning on him for the next little while as we transition but at the same time I’ll probably bring my own little flair and own originality to how I practice. I’m just sort of feeling my way through before I decide how much I’ll be like Bob and how much I won’t” he said.