New Biography of Murray Enkin by Kerreen Reiger

Kerreen Reiger has just completed her much-anticipated biography of Murray Enkin, the beloved obstetrician who convinced Lynn to publish her first book. Enjoying the Interval is now available! Kerreen will be speaking at a Vancouver launch event, on October 3rd at 7pm at B.C. Women’s Hospital.

About The Book:

Anyone who has enjoyed the great happiness and intimacy of a family-centred birth, and any midwife or health professional who has attended one, owes a debt of gratitude to internationally known Canadian doctor, researcher, and medical reformer, Murray Enkin.

Enjoying the Interval takes on the fascinating, joyful task of exploring Dr Enkin’s identity and achievements along with the social context that shaped them. It offers a critical assessment of the ongoing challenges in maternity care, the field to which Enkin devoted his life, but it is also the story of an immigrant Jewish family’s contribution to Canadian society and the wider world.

Lynn’s Recollections of Murray:

Both Murray and I were still living in Ontario when Kerreen Reiger began to write his biography. I can’t remember how many years it’s been! Murray Enkin was a remarkable man. A well-known educator and specialist in obstetrics, he was an advocate for midwifery and natural childbirth.

Having lectured on and written about his belief that having a baby was not a medical emergency, but an intimate, personal event, he allowed his patients to make their own decisions about how they wanted to live the experience. He believed in the father, and even siblings, being present. At a time when everyone assigned pregnancy to the hospital, he advocated for home birth and (if there were no complications) for having your baby in the most comfortable way possible.

I worked for him as an illustrator at McMaster University in the early 70s and when I had my son, he was my obstetrician. It was Murray who insisted I do a cartoon book about childbirth. He helped me find a publisher. When I was offered a job as a comic strip artist with Universal Press Syndicate, I thanked Murray for having had such faith in me as an artist. His support was constant. If someone believes in you, you can do almost anything!

When Kerreen suggested she write a book about Murray, I thought it was a wonderful idea. The thing is…there was so much to write about. Kerreen didn’t know what she was in for! Murray’s life and accomplishments are profound. It has taken her many years to finish this manuscript. She has followed Murray and Eleanor Enkin from Hamilton Ontario to Toronto to England to Vancouver, interviewing him, reading his work, studying his research, talking to friends and meeting his associates. The book is finally done. I asked Kerreen if she could believe she was actually looking at the proofs! She told me it had turned out to be a lifetime experience.

Now that it’s finished, this book is more than a biography. It’s a labour of love and a profound record of a life that was dedicated to science, to family, and to the next generation. I am fortunate to have known Murray Enkin so well. I am fortunate to know his family, his friends and his biographer. The photo of Murray sitting in his favourite chair, on the cover, was taken by me. Thanks, Kerreen, for this honour, and for completing this massive document. It is two lives’ work, yours and his. It’s an honour to have known you both.

Get the book here!

Snapshots and Images, Part 3

Curious what this is about? Read part one of Snapshots and Images here, and part two here.

67. Do you have a special memory associated with a major event?

Laurel: I remember the sights and sounds of Expo 86. The feeling of joy every day. Pavilions and rides and food and company all summer.

Lynn: I was invited to receive a star on the Toronto Walk of Fame. That was major enough for me!

68. Have you had an awesome moment on a trip? 

Laurel: I remember standing with a friend high up in the Alps in Italy, looking down at fields far below us and later, in Australia, going on a riverboat and seeing crocodiles swim beside us.

Lynn: High in the mountains of Peru, I was invited into a farmhouse to see how it was built and how the owners lived. The family was lovely. I felt honoured. In China, we were carried on bamboo chairs up a steep hillside to a “Minority Village.” The view from the top was spectacular and the women—who were known to have the longest hair in the world—would remove their hats (for a small fee) and let us see their hair cascade down to the ground. 

69. Have you ever done something just plain silly? 

Laurel: My friend Judy and I jumped, fully clothed, into the outdoor pool at Second Beach then drove, soaking wet, to the White Spot carhop section for burgers. Another time we parked the car, a Morris Minor, by the side of a grassy hill and rolled, log fashion, down the hill, laughing all the way.

Lynn: I have done countless silly things. Beer and Skits in Lynn Lake was an annual onstage, drunken blowout. I always played a role. Public speaking also comes to mind. 

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Snapshots and Images, Part 2

Curious what this is about? Read part one of Snapshots and Images here.

34. What is a visual of something you had heard about all your life and finally saw for the first time? 

Laurel: I remember seeing the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains and the prairies in Canada.

Lynn: Seeing Niagara Falls for the first time was breathtaking. I had only seen it in photos and in the Marilyn Monroe movie.    

35. What do you remember about a piece of clothing you have loved?

Laurel: I remember my blue velvet dress from university and my first Danier black leather jacket. I remember my first mini-skirt and my elephant pants in the 70s at university. Cashmere sweaters.

Lynn: My favourite dress was hand crocheted, white and had a purple ribbon running around the bodice. I cried when I grew out of it. I think I was three. In my teens, I purchased a dark orange leather mini skirt and matching jacket. I thought I was ready for “Vogue.”    

36. Have you ever met someone you admired or someone famous?

Laurel: I took my class to watch Princess Diana drive by during Expo 86 and she waved right at us.

Lynn: I met and got to know Phyllis Diller. What a lovely lady—funny, kind and very, very smart!    

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Snapshots and Images, Part 1

My friend, Laurel, and I have known each other since high school. We were biology partners—and we both had a crush on the same teacher! We live on the same street now, and enjoy getting together to catch up. Tuesday evening was hot and humid. As we sat on her back porch with a cold drink, Laurel mentioned a list she had written—something to cheer friends up. With COVID still a threat, climate change and political stuff going on, Laurel said we all tend to think about the negative when there are so many positive memories we can find—memories that are just a “clue” away. 

She told me about her list of 100 clues; questions that might spark a fond or funny memory—and I asked if I could fill it in. Laurel was right. Sometimes all you have to do to cheer yourself up is to delve into your own treasure chest of good memories. 

I wanted to share her list with everyone and hope it brings some smiles and even some great stories. Here then is Laurel’s list  with answers from both of us—along with a photo of her and myself as kids. I hope you enjoy this exercise as much as I did!   

Lynn J. 


Snapshots and Images

We are all made up, at any age, of zillions of tiny moments…visual, experiential, touch, smell, taste…and it’s sometimes amazing how some trigger in the ‘now’ can bring back all sorts of ‘snapshots’ of memories from our lifetime. I have a friend who is just 22 and doing this…already saying “Oh, my gosh…I remember that…” The snapshots can be big things, or just fun things, simple things like remembering a squirrel running across the road, twitching its tail or the smell of lavender in the garden. See if some of these prompts can trigger some of your memory snapshots. Just remember this is about happy memories.

1. Do you remember seeing your spouse or a friend for the first time?

Laurel: I remember first seeing my husband Colin on a ski trip, in his red ski jacket. Putting on his skis.

Lynn: I remember seeing my partner Paul in elementary school. He will deny that he wore glasses, but that’s how I remember him! He had thick dark hair and a big smile. We were in grade 5.

2. What are your memories of the coldest you’ve ever been? 

Laurel: I remember the cold on that ski trip…the air twinkled with ice crystals.

Lynn: The coldest I have ever been is in Lynn Lake Manitoba. It was a reported -50 Celsius and with a wind, it was said to be -70. It was too dangerous to go outside.    

3. Do you have a sport you like? Doing it or watching it? What are the senses you associate with that sport?

Laurel: I remember the swishing sound of cross-country skis…the crunchy squeak of the snow under my skis.

Lynn: My favourite sport to watch is basketball. I love to see fast minds working against fast opponents—and time.    

4. What memories do you associate with sounds? 

Laurel: I remember listening to Gregorian Chants at the Cloisters in New York City and the church bells in Positano, in Italy. Horses whinnying when I took riding lessons. Ukuleles in the dark in Bora Bora. Hearing a kookaburra laugh for the first time in Australia.

Lynn: The first memory of sound that comes to mind is my dad singing a lullaby as he carried me up the stairs to bed.    

5. How about a memory or many, associated with smell? 

Laurel: I remember the smell of wet seaweed at the beach, hot pine needles on a     camping trip, beeswax candles in a Catholic church.

Lynn: The smell of Fleer Fortune bubble gum brings back the clearest childhood memories! And my dad frying bacon and eggs!    

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Congratulations, Doug Raven!

Doug Raven, president of the Farley Foundation, received the honorary “Dr. Jim Hysen Friend of Farley Award” on July 14th, 2022 in honour of his work with the FF and its 20 year anniversary.

The Farley Foundation Logo

The OVMA conference was held at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto, from July 14-16. The FF reception on the Thursday night, July 14th, celebrated the 20th year of the Farley Foundation and included a surprise tribute to Doug, with his retirement reception being held the night after.

Congratulations on your retirement, Doug!

Dr. Jim Hysen was President of OVMA in 2009, and a strong supporter of the Farley Foundation. He participated in the Ride for Farley from its early days in Northern Ontario, and supported the Ride not only financially, but through his enthusiasm, camaraderie, and willingness to assist others.

Dr. Hysen passed away in June 2012, following a long battle with lymphoma. Given his past involvement with the foundation, the Board created the “Dr. Jim Hysen Friend of Farley Award” which is to be given to an individual or organization which has demonstrated the qualities associated with Dr. Hysen (generosity, enthusiasm, camaraderie, and a willingness to assist others) and made an outstanding contribution to the Farley Foundation.