John Barr

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  • "Thank you Dr. John.. Your support, friendship and kindness..."
    - Don Cameron
  • "It is always sad to learn of the death of a distinguished..."
    - George & Mary Grace Cameron
  • "It was a pleasure knowing General Barr. He will be sadly..."
    - Zelma Buckley
  • "It was with saddness that I learned of the passing of MGen..."
    - Cathy Frewen
  • "It is with great regret that I learned of the death of..."
    - C A (Dick) Burden
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BARR, John Wilmer Browning C.M.M., K.St.J., C.D., Q.H.P., M.D., C.M., D.H.A. Major-General, retired 1916-2007 One of Canada's longest serving and most distinguished soldiers, a Military Physician of note, passed away quietly at the Ottawa General Hospital on Wednesday, April 25, 2007, at the age of 90. John Barr, husband of the late Marion Crawford, predeceased by his parents James and Mary (nee Browning), his brother Lindsay, his sisters Cora Ann McIlquham, Edna King and Elizabeth Barr. He will be fondly remembered by his many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. His military colleagues and his numerous friends will remember him as a gentleman and a proud Canadian. A native of Lanark, Ontario, Barr began his long military career in 1940, when he joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corp (RCAMC) as a medical officer shortly after graduating from Queen's University at Kingston. During the next 53 years of military service, he ran the full gamut of medical appointments from battalion medical officer, commanding officer of field medical units, in England, Belgium and Germany, commandant of the Canadian Forces Service School, commanding officer of Canadian Forces Hospital, Kingston, and numerous staff posts, culminating in his appointment as Surgeon General of the Canadian Forces. His application to all studies relating to Military Medicine was as notable as the excellence of his scholastic performance. He attended, with impressive academic brilliance, many military and civilian Courses, and was a diplomat in hospital administration of the University of Toronto. General Barr was honoured for his contributions to the Canadian Forces in the fields of military medicine and health care administration by his admission to the Order of Military Merit (C.M.M.) in the grade of Commander. His long and distinguished service is reflected in his Canadian Forces Decoration (C.D.) on which is remarkably displayed four bars, signifying over 52 years of service. General Barr's appointment as Queen's Honorary Physician (Q.H.P.), normally for a fixed term, was made a life appointment by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in view of his long and distinguished service, the first time this was ever done. His devoted service to St. John Ambulance, and his work as their Chief Medical Officer, led to his admission to the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, and successive promotions, eventually to Knight of Grace (K.St.J.). Following his retirement as Surgeon General in 1973, he accepted the appointment of Registrar, Medical Council of Canada, where he revamped the examinations that permitted Canadian doctors to apply for provincial licences to practice. For his distinguished service during his seven-year tenure, he was named Registrar Emeritus in 1980. From 1972, he also held the appointment of Colonel Commandant of the Canadian Forces Medical Services (C.F.M.S.) until his final retirement from the Canadian Forces in 1999. During this time General Barr worked tirelessly to enhance the esprit de corps of Regular and Reserve medical units, attending official functions with these units across Canada and in Europe. He was a constant source of advice and support to the Office of the Surgeon General, and wrote a guide for officers entitled Traditions of the Canadian Forces Medical Service and a Story of the Canadian Forces Medical Services As Told By The Colonel Commandant On The Occasion of The 25th Anniversary Of Its Formation. General Barr has also left two privately published works, a loving Biography, Marion's Life, and his own fascinating Memoirs, From Barnyard to Battlefield and Beyond. During his medical training in Kingston, John Barr met a well trained and experienced nurse, Marion Sarah Crawford, then Director of Nurses at Kingston's Ontario Psychiatric Hospital. She befriended and helped him with his studies. They corresponded regularly, and kept in touch more easily when both joined and served in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps in Europe, though not in the same Units. This peripatetic courtship led to their marriage in 1945, in Belgium. They were devoted to one another and were rewarded with a happy 47 year marriage, but they were not blessed with children, lavishing affection on nieces and nephews. Marion strongly supported his professional work, shared in the active social life his appointments entailed, and enjoyed with him a common interest in the Tait MacKenzie Foundation, gardening, and Scottish Dancing. He was devastated by her sudden death in 1992. Although seemingly a reserved authoritative figure, General Barr was always fair, kind, generous, good humoured, and distinguished by unfailing courtesy. Although abstemious, he enjoyed a party, danced well, and had memorized an extraordinarily large repertoire of songs, which he sang with singular enthusiasm and an excellent voice, being particularly impressive in a Scottish dialect. He embodied the best qualities of leadership, was very popular in all circles, and is remembered by his colleagues and many friends with affectionate regard. Despite his deep attachment to the RCAMC, he devotedly supported the welfare of the CFMS, being always an ornament to that organization. He was also a 32nd degree Freemason of the Scottish Rite, Ottawa, Lodge of Perfection. John Barr was a strong supporter of medical and nursing education. This is exemplified by the two bursaries he created at Queen's University; one in the name of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Colonel-in-Chief of the C.F.M.S. and the other in Marion's name, to encourage and support studies in these disciplines. He was a Diamond Level Donor in the ongoing development program of Queen's University. He lived for some time with worsening heart problems, and his last years were clouded by Alzheimer's disease, which blunted his memory but did not at all diminish his courtesy, friendliness, or good humour. Friends are invited to visit at the Central Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 315 McLeod St., Ottawa., on Sunday, April 29, 2007 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 pm. Funeral Service will be held in the Chapel on Monday, April 30, 2007 at 11:30 am. (Cremation at Pinecrest Cemetery). In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa Carleton, or to the Charity of your choice, would be appreciated.
Funeral Home
Hulse, Playfair, & McGarry Central Chapel
315 McLeod Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 1A2
(613) 233-1143
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Published in The Ottawa Citizen from Apr. 27 to Apr. 28, 2007
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