Oral History - Cherry, Donald


H. Wright (00:00):
This is an interview with, uh, Dr. Donald Cherry of Osgoode, Ontario. I'll now ask Dr. Cherry to just carry on with his little talk.

Donald Cherry (00:18):
I was born in Ottawa and, uh, grew up in Ottawa. I attended elementary schools and high school in Ottawa. Attended Glebe Collegiate Institute. Uh, my father was a grocer in the West End of Ottawa. I guess you could say I was horse crazy from the time I was a little kid and, uh, I started riding at the age of nine at, uh, one of the local riding establishments. Uh, my father bought me a horse at 17 and I showed, uh, I showed that horse at the Central Canda Exhibition in 1939. Uh, I'm sure it was my interest in horses that, uh, took me to the, uh, Ontario Veterinary College and, um, in my first year, I was elected president of the class and, uh, I, uh, I studied, uh, the veterinary college like my mother used to tell me how to study in high school. She'd say, "Son, keep it up every day and, and, uh, come exam time, it'll be a breeze."

Donald Cherry (01:41):
But, uh, I was just a mediocre student at, at high school, got by but no- nothing to write home about. But at the veterinary college, I was so keen about learning every part of a horse that, uh, I really kept up and, uh, knew my stuff and, um, because it was so interesting. Uh, as a result, I won the anatomy prize and, uh, later on, I think about third year, I won't the small animal diseases prize. Now, small animals weren't my bag but, uh, for some reason or other, I ... Dr. Cooley gave me the, the prize in small animals.

Donald Cherry (02:28):
Uh, at, at graduation in 1945, I was awarded the Andrew Smith Memorial gold medal for general proficiency. In my last year at the veterinary college, I was president of the science club and Dr. A.L. McNabb was the, the guest speaker one evening. Now, Dr. McNabb was to succeed Dr. C.D. McGillivray as principal the following year. The night that Dr. McNabb spoke to us, I suggested to Dr. McNabb that our BVSC degree, which was in Vogue at the time, uh, that it should be changed to a DVM degree as many of the veterinary college in the United States had. He assured me that that would be a first priority, uh, when he became principal, which he, he did immediately. Uh, the first year he was there, he changed our degree to DVM. I was also president or most worthy master of Omega Tua Sigma fraternity in my last year at school.

Donald Cherry (03:56):
Uh, I was a second lieutenant in the Canadian Officers Training Corp, or better known as the COTC. Most of us were in uniform the entire time we were at OVC in those war years. In my final year, I was, uh, a resident in the old gray barn, the so called large animal hospital. Uh, Dr. Vick Brown, uh, who was head of the anatomy department, asked me to stay on at OVC as an assistant in anatomy department. But I was much more interested in practice and didn't take long to rule out, uh, anatomy. Dr. Elwood Roe of Atwood, Ontario, who was a, a veterinarian and owner of a large poultry farm and feed manufacturing, uh, establishment, asked me to join their s- uh, staff and work along with them at Atwood, Ontario. But again, practice was more exciting and I just, uh, let that go by the boards.

Donald Cherry (05:19):
Uh, shortly after I started practice, Dr. McNabb, uh, asked me if I would be interested in, uh, working at the lab, the new lab at Kemptville, the veterinary diagnostic lab at the, at Kemptville in connection with the Kemptville Agricultural School. But I was not a bit interested in lab work and wanted to practice. I started to practice in Ottawa at an office down on the ByWard Market in, uh, on York Street in Ottawa, which is about a, a city block away from Parliament Hill.

Donald Cherry (06:03):
I took over the practice from my predecessor, Dr. N.M. Bellamy, who died the summer before. Uh, I, I ... When I started practice, there were a, a great many horses, uh, on the streets in Ottawa with delivery horses with dairies and bakeries and even the city of Ottawa had teams of black horses on the garbage, and I looked after several hundred horses for a number of years. Ottawa was one of the last cities in Canada to have horses on the street. I also attended, uh, cattle around the Ottawa area and across the Ottawa River on the Quebec side.

Donald Cherry (06:54):
I wrote to Quebec Examinations the year I graduated, fortunately successfully, which allowed me to practice in Quebec. At that time, crossing the Ottawa River into Quebec was no different than crossing the Rideau River from one township to another in Ontario. I, uh, I also worked on, uh, the cattle and horses at the, uh, Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa for about 25 years. I always did some small animal practice from the beginning, and now I have confined my practice to horses and small animals and, uh, no cattle, sheep or swine.

Donald Cherry (07:47):
In the last 10 years, I have been a, a veterinary inspector for the Mi- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food at, uh, Leo's Livestock Sale and Emb- Embrun Livestock Sale barns at Greely on Mondays and Thursdays. Now, uh, th- these sales are second or third largest in Ontario. Also, for the past 12 years I've been involved in some meat inspection on a consultation basis at local provincial slaughterhouses. In the quite early years of practice, I think about 1947, I be- I was asked to treat horses at the RCMP stables at N Division on St. Laurent Boulevard next to the Rockcliffe Airport. I've been doing their work ever since, for the last 45 years.

Donald Cherry (08:59):
I had the, uh, privilege of, uh, attending, uh, the several shows United States where the, uh, Musical Ride was performing. Now, I didn't go as a veterinary with them because, uh, they make arrangements for veterinary in whatever city or town they're going to, uh, to, uh, be called on i- in case of emergencies. They, they do a pre tour of their, uh, Musical Ride tour and make arrangements for, uh, accommodation for the men, a stabling for the horses, uh, where the feed is gonna come from and a quality with the feed and veterinarians. They, they, they carry their own blacksmith with them or farrier. But they use the services of veterinarians in the, the cities which they go.

Donald Cherry (09:54):
I was fortunate to go with them to, um, Chicago in 1971, uh, to the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. Uh, while I was in Dallas, the manager of the state fair asked me to take the salute one night, and I was very proud to, to be a Canadian standing with that huge audience, uh, on their feet, uh, for s- I think four standing ovations during the Musical Ride. It's very well accepted in the United States. In, um, 1985, I went to, uh, the Kentucky State Fair at Louisville and also the ride was well accepted down there.

Donald Cherry (10:43):
In 1988, the Musical Ride tour toured Europe and my wife and I went to the Royal Windsor Horse Show, which was held in the Home Park at Windsor Castle. The horses were stabled in the Royal Mews at Windsor Castle, that's the stables at Windsor Castle. And on Friday the 13th of May 1988, the Queen came down to the mews to, uh, inspect the horses and, uh, have a visit with the members of the Musical Ride. Uh, the officer in charge of the ride brought her majesty over to where my wife and I were standing and we were presented and he also told, uh, the Queen that I had been looking after their horses for 40 years, and she said, "40 years? You must know Burmese." And that's the mare th- the Canadian government gave Her Majesty, uh, the year of Canada Centennial, 1967 and Burmese is her favorite horse. She's ridden B- Burmese side saddle at the Trooping of the Colors every year, uh, until j- just that year she was retired.

Donald Cherry (12:04):
And, uh, we talked about Burmese and Centennial, the last horse that the Mounted Police gave her and it was quite a thrill to, uh ... We, we thought we might see the Queen, but we never thought we would meet her and have a visit with her. Now, the RCMP raises their own horses at their farm at Pakenham, Ontario. I don't do the work a- at the breeding farm. Dr. Quackenbush from Carp is the veterinarian at the breeding farm.

Donald Cherry (12:38):
Recently, the RCMP bought a few horses for the Musical Ride and they named one of the horses Dr. Don, uh, which to me was quite an honor, I have a horse named after me, and that horse is on the Musical Ride this year. Uh, the police have honored me by asking me to, uh, be their guest speaker at regimental dinners on three different occasions. I, uh, talk to them about my many experiences, uh, over the years with, with the RCMP and the Musical Ride. I think on, on one of those talks, uh, I diverged, uh, by giving some, uh, uh, interesting episodes in practice in general.

Donald Cherry (13:37):
Now, Dr. Wright, uh, we were just talking about, uh, Ian Millar winning his 100th Grand Prix yesterday out at Spruce Meadows in Calgary and, um, I've known Ian Millar since he was a teenager when he was in the pony club and, uh, I, uh, I looked after horses for Ian Millar for many years as, uh, growing up as a teenager and then, uh, when he became the rider at Dwyer Hill Farms. Dwyer Hill Farms, uh, was quite a prominent, uh, uh, hundred jumper, uh, stable in the 70s, uh, and early 80s and, uh, Ian Millar was their rider and I did the veterinary work. And then Ian, uh, bought a farm in Perth, Ontario and, uh, he asked me to, uh, do work up there, but, uh, he was a little too far away and, uh, I declined.

Donald Cherry (14:43):
However, uh, I can say that I, I worked for the famous Ian Millar, he's considered the top, uh, show jumper in the world today and, uh, I worked for him for many years. Now, I, I should mention I was on the council of the Ontario Veterinary Association for a few years in the early 1960s and at that time, I was chairman of the Discipline and Ethics Committee. Uh, in my early years of practice in Ottawa, I became involved with the Central Canada Exhibition Association and the Ottawa Winter Fair. I was the official veterinarian at both the exhibition and the winter fair for about 30 years. I was on the horse show committee of both exhibition and winter fair, uh, from the first show after the war, uh, for, uh, many years. Uh, I was chairman of the horse show committee at the Ottawa Winter Fair for about twe- thi- uh, 20 years and chairman of the horse show committee at the exhibition for about 10 years.

Donald Cherry (16:10):
In 1964 and '65, I was president of the Ottawa Winter Fair and I was president of the Central Canada Exhibition Association in 1979 and '80. I'm still on the board of directors of the Central Canada Exhibition as a past president. Before I was a chairman of the horse show committees, I was an exhibitor of road horses, I might say quite successfully. We had some good ones that did a lot of winning around the Ottawa area.

Donald Cherry (16:54):
I helped draft the legislation for the Riding Horse Establishment Act of Ontario. Uh, this was to, uh, uh, the government to control, uh, riding, uh, so called riding schools or places where they rented horses. It, it was, uh, to set a minimum standard for the care of the horses. Uh, they were, uh, just common sense, uh, what you'd expect, uh, from any good stable. It wasn't any elaborate, uh, requirements, but just good common sense, basic care. And I was appointed as the first chairman of the appeal committee, uh, of the Riding Horse Establishment Act.

Donald Cherry (17:49):
Uh, on my committee were, uh, the last Doug Palmer of Schomberg, Ontario and a lady from Vankleek Hill, and we traveled wherever there was an infraction of the, uh, of the act. Uh, the, the people involved, uh, would bring a lawyer to a hearing, much like a, like a court, uh, room and, uh, lawyers for the Ontario government would, uh, uh, uh, pres- present the case on behalf of the government and, um, we traveled to places like Kingston, uh, Ontario, Essex, Vineland, uh, and here in Ottawa and, uh, listened to the, uh, both sides of the argument and gave a ruling and, um, th- the, the, the government had inspectors, or still have inspectors that goes to these, uh, riding establishments and grant a license if they come up to the minimum standards and, uh, if they, if they don't, they're either not given a license, or canc- their license is canceled.

Donald Cherry (19:07):
Now, I've been a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners since 1963 and, uh, I was asked to present a paper at the convention of AAEP in Los Angeles in 1966. Uh, in 1971, I was asked to be chairman of a panel of horse show veterinarians in Chicago. I was also on the horse show committee of the AE- AAEP for a number of years. Uh, I've done some horse judging, uh, as well as a veterinarian at many horse shows around the area, other than the big shows at Exhibition Winter Fair. I was one of the founders of the Ottawa Valley Light Horse Association, uh, which had its first horse show in 1949, and there's been continuous horse shows every year since that. I had the privilege of being the president of that organization for two years, two, uh, two different occasions of a couple of years each.

Donald Cherry (20:32):
I married my wife, Harriet, in July 1952 and this will be our 40th wedding anniversary. We have three daughters, all with bachelor degrees and one with a master degree. We have two grandchildren, a little boy, Matthew, six and a half, and a little granddaughter, Kate, three and a half. In 1945, we bought 40 acres out new Osgoode, Ontario and built a new house and a clinic where we've been, uh, working from ever since. My youngest daughter, Elizabeth, was quite a good rider, quite keen about horses and, uh, we had, prior to that, had horses in boarding stables and we decided we'd like to have a place of our own and, uh, we operated from here and she and the mother traveled around the country from April til November, uh, at horse shows every weekend. She showed at the Royal Winter Fair for a number of years quite successfully.

Donald Cherry (21:51):
Um, I was a member of the Ottawa Rotary Club for about 20 years. Unfortunately, I, I had a heart attack in April 1979 and a few days later, a stroke. I, uh, I couldn't speak for several days and, um, I used to, I used to lay in, in the hospital bed and watch television and watch those evangelists and, uh, I thought if I could ever talk again, I'd, I'd become an evangelist but I, I never, never followed that line. I stayed as a veterinarian.

Donald Cherry (22:36):
I've, uh, I've been on medication ever since. Uh, I take a, a beta bl- blocker Corgard tablet every day and an enteric covered aspirin tablet every second day and I've never had, uh, moments of trouble with the heart ever since. Uh, I've carried nitroglycerin tablets and a solution, uh, ever since and never used it once. Uh, in 1991, just last year, I was admitted, uh, for, uh, ra- radical, uh, uh, uh, prostate surgery. I had, uh, prostate cancer and, uh, the day before the operate, uh, the doctor canceled the operation because my admitting X-ray showed a spot on the left lung and it turned out to be cancer and I had the lower lobe of my left lung removed on May the 2nd 19- 1991. August the 16th, I had my prostate removed.

Donald Cherry (23:54):
Uh, tests show that there's still some prostate cancer cells and next Wednesday June the 10th, I'm starting radiation therapy. I feel great and hope to practice for, uh, many years to come, uh, as long as my health permits and as long as people want me. I thoroughly enjoyed my years a veterinarian. I'm, I'm, I'm sure there was nothing else that I would prefer doing than the practice of veterinary medicine. It's, uh, it's been very rewarding. It's, uh, uh, it's a great thrill to see something that you've been involved with, uh, improve and get better. Uh, unfortunately, everything doesn't get better. But, uh, it's, uh, it- it's a nice feeling and, um, I've enjoyed working with other veterinarians. Uh, I hope they could say the same about me.

Donald Cherry (24:57):
I remember one time I was treating a rather expensive, uh, American bred saddle horse for lameness and the horse just wasn't getting better as fast as the owners thought it should and they called in Dr. Charlie Baker from Montreal and, uh, Dr. Baker said that he would look at the horse, but with me, he wasn't going to pull something behind my back. So, Dr. Baker got in touch with me and we went out and examined the horse and, uh, he gave his opinion and so on, and on the way back, he said to me, he said, "Don, there should be a stronger bond between veterinarians than between a horseman and a veterinarian," and I think, uh, we should keep that in mind that, uh, uh, the integrity of our profession and, uh, always keep that foremost.

Donald Cherry (26:04):
I've, I've enjoyed this little interview. I hope it might be of some benefit to whoever wants to listen to it. Thank you, Dr. Wright.