Memories of Jack Pickup Flying Doctor of British Columbia

This book is still available for sale. Price $18, no tax. Shipping within Canada $7. (Total $25) Shipping to the United States extra.

Exciting News!

I am writing the story of the life of my late husband, Michael J. Crosbie, in e-book format. The working title is Michael Crosbie, Renaissance Man. It has been discovered beyond reasonable doubt that Michael was an illegitimate child of Lord Bertrand Russell. His mother was 16 when she was dismissed from service at Lord Russell’s home. Shortly after that, Russell divorced his wife, Dora in 1932. Michael was born June 4, 1933. Michael’s mother went to a home for unwed mothers in Brighton, England where she gave birth. After struggling for 15 months to take care of Michael, she placed Michael in Nazareth House Orphanage for boys in Southend-On-Sea, on the East coast of England. When Michael reached the age of 15 he was recruited by the British Army and left the orphanage by train to head up to Catterick Camp, Richmond in North Yorkshire. He served in the army as a musician and studied for one year at Kneller Hall, the Royal Military School of Music, Twickenham, in the London area. He did very well choosing the oboe has his primary instrument, but obtained a working knowledge of a total of 25 musical instruments. He then went to Malaya with the army in 1950. Michael returned in 1956 and studied music further in Germany and London with Sir Adrian Boldt (conducting).

Michael’s life was filled with challenges, most of which he overcame. He achieved much with little support. He married his childhood girlfriend, Bridget Harper, in the early 1960s and together they had three children, Stephanie, Nicola, and Kevin, all who have become very successful. The Crosbies started out in their married life in Toronto where Bridget worked to put Michael through the university of Toronto. Michael obtained a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Music. He taught the likes of Bobby Orr in Oshawa and also took a high school band, Westview Centennial, in Toronto, Ontario on a two-week tour of the UK with parental chaperones in 1970. A few years later, he was advised by his doctors to quit teaching due to extreme self-imposed stress. Michael was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Michael and Bridget moved to Duncan, BC with their children to start a Smitty’s Family Restaurant that they successfully ran as a family business for 15 years.

To learn more, purchase the E-book at Smashwords I will keep you informed of the publication date.


Memories of Jack Pickup Flying Doctor of British Columbia

My book, Memories of Jack Pickup, Flying Doctor of British Columbia is now available.  The price is $18 no tax (if purchased directly from the author). Shipping within Canada is $7 making the total $25. The rate has gone up due to the increased cost of postage as of January 1, 2014.

Subject to tax, if purchased in a retail store or museum.  

About the Book

Memories of Jack Pickup Flying Doctor of British Columbia is a story of Dr. Pickup's contributions to his community, his regional district, and his province.  In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s during the height of the logging and fishing era, people from all over the province who were involved in these industries, as well as many tourists from the United States and beyond were given medical care by Jack Pickup. This story is not an academic account, but rather, an account of the friendships he formed with his staff and coworkers and citizens of Alert Bay, Sointula, Port McNeill, and to some extent Port Hardy and Port Alice. He was not only a top-notch physician & surgeon, but he also served as mayor for six years and served on the Mount Waddington Regional District. Jack was a friend to many people, no matter their class or occupation.  He also entertained us with his humour and his jazz piano playing.   He was an integral part of the community of Alert Bay. May his memory live on in the hearts of his former patients and all those people whose lives were touched by his kindness.

Dr. Pickup Talking About Coming to Alert Bay

Review by J. R. Rardon, Editor North Island Gazette

Dr. Harold Jackson "Jack" Pickup has achieved almost mythical status as "The Flying Doctor" since his death in 1992 (1996).

Comox Valley author Marilyn Crosbie, a former resident of Sointula, has painted a much more down-to-earth portrait of one of the foremost pioneers of medicine along the B.C. Coast in her book, Memories of Jack Pickup — Flying Doctor of British Columbia. Crosbie is not a professional author or researcher, but writes from the perspective of a newly arrived young patient whose children were delivered by the man she obviously came to know quite well over the ensuing decades. The book is not a factual biography of Pickup, but rather a memoir told from Crosbie's perspective — a conscious choice she describes in the introduction. Crosbie's approach leaves gaps in the historical record as it pertains to Pickup's life and career, but provides a rich and textured look back, through anecdotes and remembrances, on what life was like for North Islanders before they were connected to the rest of Vancouver Island by road and before each community had its own staffed hospital or clinic.

The story is as much about her own somewhat reluctant stay in Sointula from 1970 through 1990 as it is about Pickup. But to Crosbie's credit it is liberally sprinkled with interviews from friends, co-workers and professional counterparts of the doctor, who was almost single-handedly responsible for care of patients across thousands of square kilometres of Coastal B.C. from his arrival in Alert Bay in 1949.

Memories of Jack Pickup also includes a number of archival photos drawn from a variety of sources, including a few photos snapped by the author herself. Crosbie was well-prepared for this project, having contemplated the book since 1974, when she approached a surprised Pickup about the idea before being told some weeks later that his wife was uncomfortable with the idea.

Despite the rebuff, Crosbie began even then to compile a record of clippings and letters related to Pickup's work, not only as the North Island's "Flying Doctor" but as a teacher, Alert Bay's Mayor, a skilled classical and jazz pianist and dry wit whose behaviour occasionally bordered on curmudgeonly. For Crosbie, who had recently lost her father at the time of her arrival in Sointula, Pickup seems to have become something of a surrogate father-figure. But Memories of Jack Pickup is not a starry-eyed paean from a fan; Crosbie is clearly impressed with Pickup's medical skills and ability to juggle the myriad responsibilities he faced, while describing exasperation with his views and behaviour on some occasions.

She also does not shy away from the 1979-80 inquest into the death of Renee Smith of complications from appendicitis, a case which resulted in Pickup being allowed to continue to practice medicine while simultaneously curtailing and placing restrictions on his pre-inquest workload and freedom.

No story about Pickup's life would be complete without flying anecdotes, and Crosbie supplies several through the voices of interviewees. She relies on other voices, including those from his lively retirement party in Alert Bay and somewhat more somber memorial service, to round out the tale.

For local readers, the book may hold interest in the inclusion of remarks from a number of people who knew Pickup and who still work and/or live in the area. While not a comprehensive story on the life of the Flying Doctor, Crosbie's book is a colourful and informative snapshot of North Vancouver Island History.

Memories of Jack Pickup; Flying Doctor of British Columbia is published by RDM Publications of Courtenay.