MCDIARMID, Howard




Author Tags: Physician Author

Born in 1927, Prairie-raised Howard McDiarmid graduated in medicine from the University of Manitoba, interned at Vancouver General Hospital and arrived on the tarmac of tiny Tofino airport in 1955 to become the lone physician for Tofino (pop. 400), Ucluelet (pop. 800) and the surrounding First Nations communities (pop. 2000). Intending to stay six months, he ended up serving as Social Credit MLA for the area from 1966 to 1972, playing a formative role in the creation of Pacific Rim National Park in 1971. The West Coast Trail section was added in 1973.

In his clearly-written and concise memoir, Pacific Rim Park (Wickaninnish Inn $18.95 plus postage), McDiarmid recalls how his efforts to preserve Long Beach had received vital support from B.C. Recreation Minister Ken Kiernan and Premier W.A.C. Bennett. "Many people have attempted to give various individuals, in particular Ken Kiernan and Jean Chr├ętien, credit for creation of the park, and rightly so, but what they have overlooked is the fact that establishment of Pacific Rim National Park required the expenditure of large amounts of provincial money to acquire private properties.... W.A.C. deserves huge credit for this. I believe to this day that if I had not represented a Social Credit constituency, the outcome would have been very different."

It was a one-on-one meeting between Premier Bennett and McDiarmind, in the late spring of 1969, that persuaded Bennett to give the green light to McDiarmid's Long Beach park project.

McDiarmid shifted his practice to Victoria, and later California, but he maintained a residence in Tofino and later opened the new Wickaninnish Inn on Chesterman Beach in 1996 with his son, Charles, having acquired legal control of the name almost twenty years earlier.

As a country doctor, McDiarmid routinely delivered more than 100 babies per year, never had a maternal fatality and had only one death from a surgical procedure during all his years of practice in Tofino. 978-0-9813204-0-3

[BCBW 2010]