Many years ago, through a peculiar chain of circumstances, I found myself reading Dave Barry’s weekly Miami Herald humor column (syndicated in the Winnipeg Free Press), and practicing as a family doctor in Emo, Ontario.  (pop 1000).  Note here that I’m referring to the population of Emo, not Ontario.


Emo is situated on the Rainy River, which is the boundary between part of northern Minnesota and part of northern Ontario. Whereas Minnesota is known for Jesse Ventura and large walleye statues, Emo gets honorable mention in a book by Alec Ross, entitled “Coke Stop in Emo: Adventures of a Long-Distance Paddler.”

(The man holding the paddle on the book cover below is actually Geoffrey Chaucer, the Medieval English bard.  Alec Ross is pictured  on the left, wearing an early prototype of a Tilley Hat.)

Alec Ross/Tilley Hat Prototype









I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Alec, but I did have the privilege of knowing and working with a canny Welsh MD by the name of John O’Sullivan.  John probably forgot more Medicine than I ever learned; he had a kind, generous spirit, and a wonderfully wacky sense of humor.

One day in 1994 John and I decided to start writing a humor column for The West End Weekly, the weekly newspaper for the town of Rainy River, Ontario (population also 1,000).


We called the column Emedics although I voted for calling it The Department of Lateral Thinking. Together we wrote eighty or so columns before I moved away from Emo in 1996.

Sadly, John passed away in 2000 and I never got around to writing columns again until 2015.  I still think of him whenever I start typing, and if you don’t like what I type, blame John (and Dave Barry).

-George Gillson MD PhD

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  1. Wow! I look forward to reading your blog regularly. Any chance I get to blame more good things and humor on Dave Barry is worth it’s weight in gold! Um, how much does a chance actually weigh, do you think?


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