September 27, 2017 • 1 Comments

Tagged with Death Race Dr. Esther Barnard Dr. Gillett Grande Cache Multidisciplinary RhPAP Rural Health Sulphur Gates • Written by Bobby Jones

20 years ago, Dr. John Gillett came to Grande Cache from South Africa, with a short stint in Regina on the way.

Grande Cache has a population of about 3600.  It lies approximately half way between Hinton and Grande Prairie on Highway 40.

“Grande Cache is as beautiful as it gets.  To me, it’s more beautiful than Jasper, more beautiful than Banff.   From my bedroom balcony, I see 13 mountain peaks,” says Dr. Gillett.

Go outside and you can see 21 mountain peaks. Dr. Gillett has hiked to the top of them all.  He’s an avid outdoorsman. He's participated many times in the infamous Canadian Death Race that's held every August in Grande Cache.

Don't be surprised to see Dr. Gillett driving through town on his 1915 Ford Model T.  It's actually one of two in Grande Cache.

Dr. Gillett toured Bernard Anderson, Executive Director, RhPAP and Holly Handfield, Development Consultant, RhPAP to see some of the many scenic sights in the area.


Sulphur Gates, the meeting place of the Smoky and Sulphur Rivers located just SW of Grande Cache.

Dr. Gillett’s wife, Dr. Essie Barnard also practices here.

“I don’t think there is another town in rural Alberta with the natural beauty of this town.  It is a privilege to live here,” says Dr. Barnard.

Dr. Esther Barnard practices part time in Grande Cache.

John embraces the challenges of rural practice.“I think the nice thing about rural practice, at least here, is that you don’t know what to expect on any given day.  Some days are quiet and you just do clinic work.  And then tomorrow, all hell breaks loose and multiple trauma comes through the door. And that’s what I think makes it exciting.”

RhPAP Development Consultant Holly Handfield and Dr. John Gillett.

Dr. John Gillett chats with his medical office assistants.

"We couldn’t practice here if we didn't have that collegiality at least amongst the physicians to take call for my patients when I’m not in town or not on call.  And then there's the multidisciplinary team with the nurses at the hospital, always keen to help. Lab, X-ray. We all work together for the good of the patient and we have fun!"

He's been a director since 2014 and is passionate about RhPAP's expanded role to represent all health professions in rural areas.

"I think the plan is fantastic because it’s not just physician based.  It’s rural health care professional based.  And I think that’s vital to the stability of health care rurally.  And, I hope that RhPAP becomes the pivot around which all aspects of rural health care move." 

Comments (1)

Wendy Dickson

Wonderful video. All I want to say is Thank You, Dr Gillette, for staying. So many doctors have come and gone from our town. Thank You to you and your wife for taking care of all of us for so many years. Thank You for somehow surviving and sticking it out through doctor shortages and still staying. You are both amazing.

Add a Comment

While The Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan (RPAP) endeavours to maintain the currency and accuracy of information published via electronic media, the information is subject to change. It is advisable that users ascertain the currency of information immediately prior to use. RPAP disclaims all responsibility for loss or damage which may arise from the use of social media. Links to external websites and Facebook and Twitter user accounts, and all other social media accounts, are provided as a convenience to users and such sites and associated content. Data presented by RPAP is for informational purposes only and is provided without warranty, either expressed or implied. We assume no liability for any decision made or action taken or not taken by anyone using or relying upon this data. For further information about data usage and reproduction please contact RPAP Research and Analysis.

Made by Ignition Industries, CMS by HiQSoft