Longtime Okotoks doctor and MP honoured
Okotoks: Dr. Grant Hill known as local doctor, politician and car enthusiast
By: Roxanne Blackwell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 10:53 am
For 44 years, Okotoks has been the place where Dr. Grant Hill delivered babies and raised his own family and now his legacy will live on in the town through the newly named Dr. Grant Hill Park in Westmount.
Hill said he’s honoured that the town has chosen to name a park after him and is glad he has a chance to enjoy it.
“Normally when you get recognition they wait until you croak,” he said, with a laugh. “Naming streets and schools and what not after people when they're gone is nice for their legacy, but it's really nice that I’ll be able to smile and say thank you directly to the town officials and I thought it was very kind of them to do it that way.”
This particular park was selected because it’s up high on a hill, something the naming committee felt was appropriate for a park named after Dr. Hill.
Mayor Bill Robertson said Hill is a very deserving resident.
“Parks are named after prominent citizens in our community and it's hard to find somebody more prominent than Dr. Grant Hill,” he said. “He's been in the community for 40 years, been a stellar member of the community and participated in two different levels of government.”
Hill was recruited to the town by Dr. Morris Gibson in 1970 to take over Gibson’s medical practice. Hill said he was welcomed into tiny town of only 1,200 when he first arrived.
“It was a long distance to Calgary and some of the streets were still gravel,” he said. “I found the people very warm and friendly. The farming community were wonderful and the High River hospital was close which is where I did the surgery that I had trained for so it was just a great spot.”
He convinced Dr. Gibson to stay and the two opened up a practice in an old schoolhouse. Eventually the two opened the Sheep River Medical Clinic and practiced there for a number of years.
Hill and his wife Sue lived along the river on 15 acres of land north of Okotoks where they raised their children – six boys, one girl and a foster son.
“We got the advantage of an acreage life with the kids able to walk to school so we didn't have to drive everywhere and if it wasn't for the subdivision that took place we'd probably still be there,” Hill said.
Hill made more than just medical contributions to the town. In 1975, he began a tradition that Okotokians and Albertans look forward to each year when they held the first Okotoks Collector Car Auction, which is now said to be the longest running car auction in Canada.
While he loved being a doctor, Hill first ventured into politics in 1974-1977 serving as an Okotoks town councillor and in 1993 he was elected as the Macleod MP, a position he held for 11 years. He wanted to further effect change in the healthcare industry and felt that politics was a way to get to the root of the problems.
“I thought my patients weren’t getting the same sort of treatment in terms of waiting lines that some of my friends who were practicing elsewhere were experiencing, so I thought healthcare was somewhat a forgotten issue here in Canada,” he said. “I was challenged to put my money where my mouth was by my wife and it was a reluctant thing in one sense because medicine is pretty satisfying and the political game is not exactly the most popular choice job wise.”
He served three terms but was eager to get back to Okotoks and continue with healthcare.
“I always wanted to return to medicine,” he said. “Medicine was my training of course and my first love and urgent care opened up literally within a month of when I came back.”
Hill worked at the Urgent Care clinic until this last September Do you mean a year ago. If so that would be less awkward to say. and in two weeks he will be embarking on a medical mission in West Africa for a year and a half. The park is only in the early phases of construction, the Town wanted to do the ceremony before he and his wife left the countrySo when is it happening? .
“It's been a real honour to represent this area, both from a medical perspective and as a member of parliament,” Hill said. “This, of course, is my home.”