Apr 262015

We recently received this wonderful Come Alive testimonialCome Alive Howard Thurman W&W

I have been a career Emergency Medicine Physician for 30 years, currently practicing in Edmonton. I had two weeks off in my emergency department schedule and was exploring holiday/educational opportunities. There was a major Emergency Medicine conference in Las Vegas and I was all set to register when I recalled my wife telling me about her Haven experience. I went on line and discovered the Come Alive program on those same dates. I must have been ready for something different because I chose the less ‘comfortable’ option and came to Gabriola. This was the best decision I could have made. Not only was this an incredible journey of personal self-discovery, I believe it will make me a better physician. Much more so than any of the medical conferences I have attended over my career.

I have worked a number of clinical shifts in the ER since my return and have developed a new approach which has provided a more gratifying experience for both me and my patients. Taking time, taking deep breaths, being fully present, touching, using different communication skills … all have made me a better clinician. One interesting technique I have developed is, when listening to someone’s chest and asking them to take “deep breaths”, I have been doing the same … it has allowed me to slow down and be in that moment, not thinking about the next patient or what test I need to order, etc.

I have nothing but positive things to say about the program and the leadership of David Raithby, Gisela Sartori and all the staff. I learned so much about myself and it has allowed me to ‘Come Alive’ in many ways.

Thanks again. I will be back for another of your programs in the near future.


Register for Come Alive here.

Oct 302012

By Jock McKeen and Bennet Wong

Ian McWhinney and Jock McKeen

When Ian McWhinney passed away September 28, 2012, the world lost one of its dedicated pioneers in medical thought.  There have been outpourings of condolences to his family, and many testimonials acknowledging his deep and lasting influence on the practice of medicine, not just in Canada, but around the world. Indeed, on the website where people could leave comments, many of the messages were not in English!  He was acknowledged as the “Father of Family Medicine” and his textbook is the key source for many practitioners. In his later years, he was given many honorary doctorates and awards, including being made an Officer of the Order of Canada. His induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame was very appropriate to show the importance of this humble man (others in this august body include Wilder Penfield, Terry Fox, William Osler, Charles Best, Norman Bethune, Tommy Douglas and Hans Selye). This is what Ian became to the world.  But to us, he was a longtime special friend. An article written by Jock that was submitted at the time of publication of Ian’s memoirs has been updated, and is included on our Articles page on the Haven website.

He never lost his common touch. He was humble, a human being, who would have happily fit in at The Haven. He lived a life of inclusiveness, always interested in connecting with others, and earnest to learn other points of view. His philosophical mind was clear, and astonishingly vast. Those who really listened carefully to him learned a transformative vision they could adapt to their own practices and personal lives.

Ian visited us in our home in 2006, where the accompanying photograph with Jock was taken. He was by this time 80 years old.  His mind was clear, his feelings came readily, and he was enthusiastic to see what Ben and I had accomplished in our collaboration. He “got us” immediately, on many levels.  He celebrated our friendship, and approved of the idea of health and healing occurring in a growth centre such as The Haven, beyond the definitions of traditional medical practice. We had far-reaching discussions about global medicine and intercultural issues. Amidst it all, we experienced his gentle wisdom, and his loving.

Following this visit, Ian wrote a testimonial about our work, focusing on our then recently published A Book About Health and Happiness.  We have excerpted from this testimonial on the Haven website, and on the book jacket.  We reproduce it below this article, in its entirety.

We are dedicating the upcoming new edition of A Manual For Life to his memory.

In memory of Ian McWhinney






Ian McWhinney’s Testimonial about Jock McKeen & Bennet Wong

In 1968, Jock McKeen was a medical student at the University of Western Ontario. In the same year, I was appointed to the new chair of Family Medicine at Western. Jock stood out as a student who was different. He thought for himself and, even in those days, was critical of the way medicine was taught.

I was also seen as different. Never before had there been a professor of Family Medicine in Canada, and I was introducing new approaches to teaching. For me, Jock was like a breath of fresh air, an original thinker, who was open to new ways of teaching and learning. I was at times unsure of myself, and Jock’s validation meant a lot to me.

Once he graduated, our ways parted, but I managed to follow his career through mutual acquaintances. Then, Jock and his partner, Bennet, sent me their book, Health and Happiness. The book is full of wisdom, presenting fresh insights into health, illness, healing, and communication, which ring true to human nature and to science.

Jock and Bennet’s courageous decision to study their relationship with complete honesty has given us a whole new outlook on relationships. I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a new era for humankind and for medicine.


Ian McWhinney, O.C., M.D., Professor Emeritus

Department of Family Medicine

The University of Western Ontario