By: Mike Anderson

Beloved by his patients, Dr. George Burrows was devoted to his family practice and the clinic he founded, often working seven days a week and 24-hours on-call.

He made thousands of house calls over the years when other doctors refused to do so and spent countless hours in hospitals delivering babies, averaging 80 deliveries a year.

Dr. Burrows passed away on May 23, 2015, after practicing medicine in Georgina for 59 years. His last house call was just ten days before he died.

Health Georgina recently announced it would honour the memory of Dr. Burrows with a plaque installed on a granite rock near the entrance of the new Georgina Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic (GNPLC), currently under construction at 21071 Dalton Rd., the former site of Dr. Burrows’ clinic.

The unveiling will occur when Health Georgina turns the keys over to GNPLC later this summer.

By all accounts Dr. Burrows lived a remarkable life.

He was born in Sutton on May 7, 1928, the fourth generation of his family to live in Georgina.

He received his MD from the University of Toronto in 1954, and, after completing his final round as an intern at the Hospital for Sick Children, he hung up his shingle on High Street in Sutton in 1956.

But he soon realized that a group practice would benefit the community more than a solo practice, so he began recruiting doctors and establishing a medical clinic.

The Georgina Medical Clinic, which also served as an urgent care facility, opened its doors at 21071 Dalton Rd in 1961.

It would grow to include nine family doctors and three Nurse Practitioners and be considered one of the most innovative and progressive clinics in the province, housing a surgical procedure room for suturing and resuscitation, as well as an x-ray room.

Although he would eventually sell the clinic to the Georgina Community Health Care Council (GCHCC), which later became Health Georgina, he was determined to see the clinic continue to serve the community. So, according to his nephew Pat Burrows, he donated half the purchase price back to the GCHCC.

In the days before OHIP, Dr. Burrows would also not charge families who couldn’t afford his services and would often pay for their children’s prescriptions.

“He told me he used to deliver a baby and get paid with two chickens,” Burrows said. “George was a giver, certainly not a taker. Money wasn’t everything to him; the gift of his time was something he gave freely.”

Dr. Burrows’ dedication was legendary in the community.

His daughter Heather Davies, a registered nurse, remembers him responding to a terrible snowmobile accident on Georgina Island in the late 1960s that took the lives of two 12-year-old children.

Dr. Burrows drove across the ice road, which was late forming that winter, with his door open so he could jump out if the car began to sink.

“He just opened the door and gunned it,” said Davies. “He figured he would jump for it if he went through the ice.”

In 2006, Dr. Burrows was honoured as “Family Physician of the Year” for
Ontario by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

But his contributions were not only in the field of family medicine.

He was a councillor in the village of Sutton for five years and the first mayor of the Township of Georgina in 1971, after the amalgamation of Sutton, Georgina township and North Gwillimbury township.

He sat another term as mayor in 1975 and as ward councillor in 1980.

While on council, he worked to improve subsidized housing, senior citizens’ apartments, and recreational facilities.

He also helped establish the York Region Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Georgina Family Life Centre.

A quote attributed to him reads:

“I’ve always said that most people live one life … but a family doctor is involved in thousands of lives. In essence, you become part of each patient’s life.”

Dr. George Burrows

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