Peterborough Public Health Remembers Dr. Garry Humphreys, Former Medical Officer of Health

Written by Communications, December 17, 2019

Dr. Humphreys a Lifelong Champion of Local Public Health

Peterborough Public Health wishes to acknowledge the important public health legacy of Dr. Garry Humphreys who passed away on December 13, 2019.  Dr. Humphreys served as Medical Officer of Health for Peterborough City and County for more than 19 years from 1984-1986 and again from 1991-2008.

“Dr. Humphreys was a champion for the health and wellbeing of Peterborough’s communities,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health. “We are grateful for his countless contributions. Many of the programs he put in place are still benefiting local residents today. For example, I am certain that PPH’s impact as an advocate for food security was fueled by his ability to turn what should have been one-time provincial funding into longstanding support for programs like ‘Come Cook With Us’ and Community Kitchens.”

During his tenure as Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Humphreys led a number of important public health initiatives. He is fondly remembered in Curve Lake First Nation for helping to secure their first Nurse Practitioner to address primary care needs. Dr. Humphreys is also known for addressing the growing health concerns related to asbestos back in 2004 and 2005. He organized education sessions for local physicians on diagnosing occupational health exposures, and encouraged the provincial government to set up Occupational Health Clinics for mass screening of workers and their families.

Dr. Humphreys also played a key role in creating smoke free spaces in Peterborough. In 1991 the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province released a report about the impacts of tobacco use in Ontario. Dr. Humphreys asked then staff what action should be taken locally and at the top of the list were by-laws to protect people from second-hand smoke.  He immediately took action, presenting to councils and working tirelessly to establish Peterborough as a leader in becoming smoke-free.

Dr. Humphreys led an impressive medical career. Following his medical studies at the University of Toronto, he received post-graduate training there in Public Health, Industrial and Occupational Health.  Dr. Humphreys served 23 years in the Canadian Forces and retired as a Lieutenant – Colonel. He also received his qualifications as a Flight Surgeon in Radiological, Chemical and Biological Warfare treatment and prevention. His extensive medical career also includes a one-year assignment to the Centre of Disease Control, United States Public Health Service to train in Epidemiology and time spent at the Walter Reed Medical Centre in Washington, D.C. in tropical medicine. From 1986-1991, Dr. Humphreys served as the Assistant Vice President for Connaught Laboratories Ltd., a vaccine manufacturer.

His lifelong commitment to public health kept him active up to and including this year, when he spoke at the Feb 9, 2019 Back to the Future event hosted by Peterborough Public Health about the role of vaccines and the eradication of polio. He spoke about the work of Dr. Gassel from Lakefield who in 1955 was the first doctor to use the polio vaccine for general use outside of clinical trials. The vaccine was so successful that polio was essentially wiped out in the western world.

The Board of Health and Peterborough Public Health staff express their deepest condolences to Dr. Humphreys’ family and friends.


For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence
Communications Manager
705-743-1000, ext. 391