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Longtime community pharmacist wrapping up career

“I’ve really enjoyed. Overall, it’s really enjoyable dealing with people. They appreciate your area of expertise and they take what you say to heart. It’s a responsibility and I’ve enjoyed it. After 44 years, it’s time to retire.”

CANMORE – A longtime community pharmacist is calling it a career after 44 years behind the counter and nearly three decades of work in the Bow Valley.

Wayne Hall, the pharmacist at Gourlay’s Clinic Pharmacy in Canmore, handed out his last prescription and gave his final COVID-19 shot Wednesday (June 30).

“It’s been a really rewarding career. I was in the community part of it, opposed to the hospital, so there was a lot of contact with people, which is what I really like,” he said.

“You pretty much knew everyone. It’s nice to know everyone. You used to walk the streets and you knew everybody by name. It’s amazing how many people still come up and know who you are.”

Hall graduated from the University of Alberta’s faculty of pharmacy in 1977 and worked in communities for several years before owning and operating the pharmacy in Radway, to the northeast of Edmonton

The town only had one pharmacy and one doctor, meaning he often worked seven days a week. When the lone doctor in Radway was retiring in 1992, his young family decided to sell and transplant themselves to Canmore as their love of the mountains called them to the community.

After taking three years off to help raise his two young son’s, Connor and Evan, he returned to work at Mironuk I.D.A Pharmacy. He was there for 10 years and moved to Safeway as the manager when they opened in town. Following 10 years, he returned to Mironuk I.D.A. – which was then Rexell – for several years before shifting to Gourlay’s in Canmore.

Darren Belik, the co-owner of Canmore's Gourlay's Clinic Pharmacy, said Hall’s professionalism and kindness always stood out.

“When I really got a chance to work with him, you go ‘wow, this is a pretty special guy.’ He really takes his job seriously. He really puts his best foot forward to make sure the patients are well taken care of and whatever he can do he’ll do for them,” Belik said.

“The relationship you build with your clients can be second to none. You’ve got to have that relationship with them and they have to know you’re looking out for them. He’ll go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the things that are needed for those clients are met.”

Belik noted it wasn’t uncommon for residents to come into the pharmacy who had followed Hall from each of the pharmacies he had worked at and had known him for more than three decades.

“Canmore’s a small town, so people don’t care where he’s working,” he said. “They’ll follow him because they trust him and know he’s going to take care of their family. … The uniqueness of Canmore is you can follow those professionals you want to.

“He’s caring and compassionate. He’s like that with everyone.”

In addition to purchasing a new e-bike with a range of about 190 kilometres (120 miles) to enjoy in retirement and zip around the valley, Hall said he hopes to volunteer more to give back to the community that’s supported him and his family.

“I’ve really enjoyed. Overall, it’s really enjoyable dealing with people," Hall said. "They appreciate your area of expertise and they take what you say to heart. It’s a responsibility and I’ve enjoyed it. After 44 years, it’s time to retire.”