Dr. Alan Swan (1928 to 2011) was one of the Sunshine Coast's memorable doctors. His career on the Coast began in 1954, when St. Mary's Hospital was located in Pender Harbour, and Swan, at the age of 26, was only two years older than the hospital.
This was at a time when a diesel generator supplied the hospital's power, and use of the x-ray machine would produce a brownout throughout the entire building. Doctors also regularly had to make house calls to isolated places accessible only by boat or plane, sometimes in the dead of night.
Despite the many challenges of a rural practice, Swan loved the Sunshine Coast and worked in Pender Harbour and in Sechelt for 22 years.
His memoir, House Calls by Float Plane: Stories of a West Coast Doctor ($24.95, Harbour Publishing), is full of entertaining and poignant anecdotes about the many interesting people he encountered — such as tougher-than-tough loggers and bushed homesteaders — and what it was like practicing medicine from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Swan passed away in 2011, but not before he had meticulously written down his stories and left the manuscript with his family. The result is the testament of a good man looking back on a career serving unforgettable characters in an unforgettable place.
Swan's family and friends will launch House Calls by Float Plane this Monday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre in Sechelt. The event will feature readings of Swan's stories, a slide show presentation featuring photos from the book, refreshments and book sales by Talewind Books. The author's proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to St. Mary's Hospital Foundation.
The Arts Centre is located at 5714 Medusa Street and the event is open to the public and admission is free.