OUR HISTORY: Park honours local doctor

Drive down Hurd Street almost any day, and you will observe a group of elderly men making use of the tables and small picnic shelter in a small park near Pleasant View Home. Dr. H.G. Humes Park offers a place to gather, relax, discuss politics, and share food and news of families — but few people know of the man after whom it is named.According to the well-researched local history book, Mission’s Living Memorial, Dr. Humes and his wife Evelyn came to Mission in June 1953. Gordon Humes served with distinction in the Canadian Navy in the Second World War, serving on a corvette on North Atlantic convoy duty. Following the war, he attended medical school at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and then interned at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.Arriving in Mission, he first went into practice with Dr. E. H. Erickson in offices on First Avenue above the Bank of Commerce. For many years, Dr. Humes served as physician to St. Mary’s Residential School; he is remembered fondly today by older First Nations people as the local “Indian doctor,” who took time to listen to their concerns and seemed to understand their needs.Dr. Humes joined Mission Oaks Medical Centre in 1966; his offices, and those of Dr. J. Marcellus and Dr. Ian Graham were located in Mission Oaks Mall.Dr. Humes loved to play the piano, and often accompanied friends and their children as they practised Christmas carols and held impromptu sing-alongs. The house he had built on the corner of Mary Street and Fifth Avenue was designed by renowned architect Arthur Erickson; passersby may recognize the distinctive slanted roof. Both Humes and his wife Evelyn were very community minded; she served as an alderwoman here.Dr. Humes was involved in the planning of the “new” Mission Memorial Hospital in the 1960s. When early administrative problems threatened the project in 1965, Dr. Humes joined operating nurse June Wilson in the onerous task of researching and quickly ordering hospital equipment, and assisted in recruiting and hiring a new administrator, Neville Cox.Dr. Humes died on April 5, 1984, at the age of 60. In recognition of his long service to the community, the Mission Memorial Hospital medical staff established a scholarship in his name. In January 1985, the park on Hurd Street was dedicated in his name by the municipality.Anyone with photographs, memories or documents relating to Dr. H.G. Humes is encouraged to contact the Mission Community Archives and consider donating material about this accomplished local physician so that his many contributions will be remembered.Sharon Syrette is writing a number of columns on Mission parks and trails history in recognition of BC Heritage Week’s theme of parks and nature preserves.