Dr. Charles Allard, 1919-91

Dr. Charles Allard, with permission from the Allard Foundation

Gifted surgeon, successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and Oilers’ founder, Dr. Charles Allard packed several lifetimes into one life.

Three years after his family arrived from Quebec, Charles was born at home in Edmonton because of the flu epidemic.

 

A talented student, he turned down a Tegler scholarship, preferring the U of A over Queens. Later, he headed east into one of the first McGill surgical residencies.

By 1948, he was back at the Edmonton General Hospital (EGH) with an FRCSC and FACS. As there was no medical office space, he and his family built the nine-story Northgate building in 1950.

As a general surgeon, he did it all, from gastric bypasses to closed heart commissurotomies, to endocrine organ operations.

He loved to draw bedside diagrams for his patients, and then give them the diagrams. In the OR he quoted poetry and sang. At 36, he became the EGH head of surgery.

Hearing of the Fort Saskatchewan rail/school bus accident that killed 17 and wounded 27, he went to the site to triage patients. He also assisted with the first Siamese twins operation at the Royal Alexandra Hospital led by Dr. Eardly Allin.

By 1968, he had built Northwest Trust into 13 branches with $800M in assets. His Crosstown Motors partnership became the largest Chrysler dealership in Canada. His investments included life insurance companies, methanol and other chemical plants, terminals and tanker fleets.

In 1971, he started the Edmonton Oilers and secured Wayne Gretzky as a player. His first company (Allarco Developments) was sold for $127M less the TV and farming interests it contained.

His TV company, Allarcom, hired prominent actors like John Candy. A production studio and a Super Channel with pay TV followed. The TV assets were sold to Canada West Global for $160M plus 23% of Western International Communications.

Far-sighted, he was one of the founders and charterers of the Bank of Alberta, which became the Canadian Bank of Western Canada.

At his funeral the minister predicted he was already negotiating with God over his future.

The Allard Foundation has made significant contributions to the U of A in the form of chairs, capital project donations, oncology programs, health education and wellness, as well as the Stollery pediatric program.

Get the whole story!

Read the full profile of Dr. Allard in Dr. Robert Lampard's "Alberta's Medical History"
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