December 19, 1954 was one of those wonderful days. It was the day that Ron, Muriel and four-month old Margaret arrived in Saskatoon. After several years in the army, Ron began practicing medicine at Casummit Lake, Ontario as a resident doctor at the town’s gold mine. Later, he went on to work at the Chalk River Atomic Energy plant and in the town hospital at Deep River. This is where he met the young nurse who would later become his wife.
Ron decided to specialize in dermatology, after his post-graduate work. Although born and raised in Toronto, Ron knew he didn’t want to practice medicine in a large city. He learned that Saskatoon was the largest Canadian centre without a dermatologist and needed such a specialist for its newly established fullcourse medical school. “I figured I couldn’t miss,” muses Ron about his decision to venture west.
Saskatoon was good to the Bremners. Their children, Margaret and Murray, grew and thrived. Ron opened his practice in the Canada Building, and in 1961 moved to the new Medical Arts Building where he continued in private practice until 1990. For 17 years, Ron taught part-time at the University of Saskatchewan in Medicine, Nursing, and other disciplines. He was able to travel extensively throughout the world, presenting scientific papers and working alongside local doctors to improve the health of the residents.
The Bremners quickly became involved in their new community. In 1955, along with Frank Roy and Stuart Houston, Ron founded the Saskatoon Natural History Society, now called the Saskatoon Nature Society. While Ron got involved in a nature organization, Muriel found time to work with the Girl Guide movement and UNICEF. Both found pleasure volunteering their ti me with groups concerned with nature and the environment. As Muriel explains, “We always enjoyed the outdoors. If we took an interest in something, we started attending meetings and getting involved.”
Religion has also been a mainstay in their lives. “The Presbyterian Church was a big influence in my life,” says Ron. “Often, in Toronto, our family would walk to the church three times on a Sunday. It was a religious, educational, and social centre for our family.”
Muriel echoes Ron’s sentiment that the Church and charity were important in her life.”! remember, back in the 1930s, my mother used to make a big pot of soup. People would often come to the back door and my mother would go out to the back yard and serve them from that big soup pot.” One of Ron’s memories as a young lad was sitting down to supper in his Toronto home in 1936. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. There stood two young men who had come in by train from the west. “They were hungry and mother fed them supper,” remembers Ron. “I don’t know why they chose our house-we were a mile and a half from the train station-but they did. They stayed for 20 or 30 minutes, thanked us and left. We never heard from them again.”
Those sorts of memories stayed with Muriel and Ron. As Muriel reflects, “Our patterns in life were set quite early. In our household you worked hard, shared and didn’t waste. And you thought of others first.” The Bremners have enjoyed their life in Saskatoon. “We have been very fortunate. Our philosophy has always been to live a good life and share what you can with the people around you. We have gained so much from the people we have met and worked with,” states Muriel. “We don’t need a lot of things. I don’t need 30 pairs of shoes. I’d rather share with others.”
The Bremners are sharing with many charitable organizations, primarily religious or nature-based. Through an agreement with The Saskatoon Foundation, Ron’s and Muriel’s long list of favourite charities will receive ongoing support. As Ron explains, “Working with The Saskatoon Foundation was an attractive way to make a contribution which at the same time, allowed us to designate the future beneficiaries.”