16th May 1912 – 11th March 2012
Dr Jacque Mar slipped quietly away on Sunday, March 11th 2012 in the Palliative Care Unit of Nanaimo Hospital, just short of his 100th birthday, holding the hand of his wife Pamela.
The youngest and last remaining of the four sons of Rev and Mrs. Mar Seung, Jacque was born in Cumberland Chinatown where his father was the Presbyterian Minister. In 1917 the family transferred to Winnipeg so that the older boys could further their education. There was little Asian discrimination in Manitoba and one after the other the sons graduated from High School and entered Manitoba University attaining high marks in Science, Engineering and Medicine from 1922 onwards. In 1935 when Jacque graduated in medicine, the parents returned to China taking the three older boys, Peter, Andrew and George, so that the knowledge they had acquired of western sciences could be passed on in their various fields. Jacque went to England for further medical training, working for many years as a surgeon and later training in the developing specialty of anaesthesia. He often spoke about the challenges of treating several patients at a time in the war-wracked operating rooms of London. With both England and China involved in world wars the family were kept apart but reunited in Canada after the hostilities. Jacque returned to Vancouver Island in 1968, settling in Nanaimo, not far from his birthplace, and joined the staff of the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
A life-long student, Jacque was still reading his medical journals in 2012. His other special interest was the history of the Chinese and especially the part they had played in Canada’s heritage and he was happy to speak about it and had collected a long-time family archive.
Jacque has always been grateful to Manitoba University for the opportunity it gave to the “Mar Boys” to achieve their education and has tried to repay them. There was mutual regret when he left Winnipeg, perhaps epitomised by an anonymous verse found in his 1930s autograph book “There is a word of grief, the sounding taken; There is a word bejeweled with bright tears; The saddest word fond lips have ever spoken; A little word that breaks the chain of years; Its utterance must ever bring emotion, the memories it crystals cannot die, ‘Tis known in every land, on every ocean – ‘Tis called “Goodbye”. Said to have been written long ago. The family will gather in May to celebrate Jacque’s 100th anniversary.
We are most grateful to the many doctors and nurses who over the years have worked with Jacque and who have cared for him in his later and last years. Jacque has always hoped that he would be remembered for having helped others especially in the hospital. Friends who wish to do so in a tangible form might like to offer a donation to the Nanaimo Hospital Foundation.