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l-r: Shep Shell, Greg Brodsky and Fred Shane before the Para-Olmypics game in Korea.

Fred Shane in grade 10 at West Kildonan.

In Memory of Fred Shane: A Life Well Lived

by Myles Shane, posted here Dec 31, 2022

He was part of the fabric of what makes Winnipeg Winnipeg. In fact my dad Fred Shane was kind of synonymous with the city.He and Winnipeg were inseparable in many ways. He grew up on Smithfield Avenue in the north end. His favourite bakery was Gunn’s on Selkirk Avenue and like Frasier from the show Cheers, everyone knew his name. My father lived a  wonderful 78 years,  served the community of Winnipeg as a doctor, was Chairman of the Manitoba Marathon, was a member of the Board of Review,  and had many other accomplishments under his belt.  I want to share my father’s story with his fellow Winnipeggers.


My Baba named him Harold Frederick after the world renowned doctor, Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin. Everyone just called him Fred. Early on my dad knew he wanted to become a doctor and not just any kind of doctor, a doctor who listened to people's problems. When dad informed my Baba his career path was to practice psychiatry, she said, “what am I going to tell my friends?” She believed like many people did back then that psychiatry was a pseudo profession, something practiced by witch doctors or shamans. My father was always outspoken. He used to say, "The meek shall inherit the earth but not in my time.” In the 1960’s he attended medical school at the University of Manitoba and on more than a few occasions he questioned his superior’s judgement regarding some of psychiatry’s outdated practices, like treating alcoholics with LSD. He spent his residency treating patients at the Selkirk mental hospital. As the years passed dad become an Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba and started his own private practice in Osborne Village with his brother who was also a psychiatrist.


Throughout his career he taught hundreds of medical students and mentored them in the field of psychiatry. I used to ask him if he was a Freudian or Jungian?? He response was he did what works. He didn’t believe in labelling things. He said he talked to people and made suggestions on how to improve their lives. He always repeated to his patients, life was about managing each day.


His anthem was similar when it came to his other passion, running marathons, “One mile at a time.” On many days dad and I would go for a five or six mile run in Osborne Village or spend the weekends jogging at Kildonan Park. Saturday and Sunday were meant for the long gruelling runs whether it was in blizzard conditions or scorching heat. However, unlike most runners dad had no problem stopping at mile five for a Coke at his favourite variety store. Countless times we’d run across the Redwood bridge while he was sipping on a beverage, wearing his Team Canada tank top. Running allowed him to destress. It let him be free from all of the pressure he was constantly under. Usually at the park he connected with his running buddies, lawyer Greg Brodsky, Shep Shell- Canada’s para-olympic athlete, and Aida Letinsky- a top marathoner. He ran over 30 marathons with his buddies including: London, Winnipeg, Boston, New York, Victoria. He said with all the miles on his odometer he had probably ran across the world at least twice.


Dad was actually instrumental in helping create the Manitoba marathon with his good friend and former Winnipeg reporter John Robertson. In fact, he was actually the chairman of the Manitoba Marathon for a short time.


In 1988 I accompanied him and his buddy Shep Shell to the Para Olympic games in Seoul, Korea. I remember riding in a plane for over 16 hours listening to the Depeche Mode tape, “Music For The masses.” After landing at the airport in Korea we jumped in a cab and listened to baseball being played on Korean radio. Once at our hotel we ordered a pizza which came wrapped in a bow tie. I recall watching my dad and Shep finish 4th in the world, while a hundred thousand people stood applauding their tremendous efforts. Dad made things happen. He shook things up. If he were alive today he'd be on the phone 24/7 helping the world deal with Covid and it's various strains. He’d probably have his own Tick Tock and Podcast.


Around 2009 my parents moved to Vancouver. My dad's heart hadn't been great in recent years and my sister and her family lived there. He frequently visited his son, daughter-in-law and grand children who lived in Toronto over the next decade. At 78 my father who believed he could do anything and his calling was to make the world a better place reiterated a line from the academy award winning movie Rocky to me, “Kid, it’s too bad we gotta get old.” It’s true dad was getting older and he wasn’t running six minute miles anymore. He always told me he didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. He didn’t want to live out his days attached to machines inside a hospital. Dad hated seeing doctors. He wanted to go out on his terms.


On September 16, 2018 he decided it was time to join the big marathon among the clouds in Heaven where’d he’d reunite with his loving parents and so many years later hear my Baba approve of his chosen profession: psychiatry. He’d helped probably thousand of people during his 78 years and I’m sure he’s still watching over us today
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