Dr. Andrew Henderson (1842-1935)
Contributed by Townsite Heritage Society 2020
An influential individual and pioneer, “Doc” Henderson was Powell River’s first doctor and co-founder, with the Powell River Paper Company, of the First Medical Plan in BC in 1910. The workers at the mill paid $1.00 per month, which covered all medical needs.
Andrew Henderson was born in 1852, in Sorel, Quebec. He graduated from McGill University and was then House Surgeon at the Montreal General Hospital. In 1883, he travelled by train to Saskatchewan, then by ‘cayuse’ to Alberta and became the first doctor in Calgary. With his new wife, in 1884, he took the first train to cross the prairies. Their son, Richard (Tobe) Gordon, was in fact the first-born white child in that young settlement.
In 1887, Dr. Henderson left with his family to the United States. It is in St. Paul, Minnesota, that he met Powell River’s founders; the Brooks brothers and M.J. Scanlon. It is also there that his daughter, Marjorie Henderson was born.
Andrew made his first visit to Powell River in 1909, when the vision for a Paper Mill by the river began unfolding. He eventually moved there with his wife, Edith and his daughter in 1910. Their house is Powell River’s first residential building and it was also the only privately-owned early home in the Townsite. Today, their house is maintained by the Townsite Heritage Society as a living museum.
Dr. Henderson is also responsible for the construction of St. Luke’s Hospital, Powell River’s first permanent hospital facility (now the Kenmar Building, named for Ken and Marjorie Henderson Macken). It was designed by George Ingemann and completed in 1913. St. Luke’s was essential in accommodating and treating patients during the flu epidemic that broke out in 1918.
It is in 1920, after the epidemic, that Dr. Henderson retired to become the Coroner and Health Officer. On top of his duties as doctor, he served on many community committees, helped found the Boy Scouts troop, supported sport groups, and was involved with the School Board until his death in 1935, at the age of 83. “Doc” Henderson, avid fisherman and boater, as well as an active church member, is said to have built the community, founding the lawn bowling club, the golf course, and active within the Masonic Lodge.