Say ahh… Family of dentists continues tradition in Oak Bay

Dr. Bob McDougall gets ready to check his dad

Dr. Bob McDougall gets ready to check his dad

Bob McDougall can’t remember visiting his grandfather’s dentistry office on Oak Bay Avenue. But he knows it was there, on the corner of Hampshire Road and Oak Bay Avenue, until Richard (Dick) McDougall retired in 1966.

What Bob does remember is his father’s dentistry office, also on Oak Bay Avenue. Bob knows because he’s worked as a dentist in the same building for the past 20 years.

In practice for 65 years, the three-generation family of dentists could be the longest serving family business in Oak Bay, says archivist Jean Sparks.

“The continuity of the family practice must be some sort of record in Oak Bay, and possibly Victoria,” she said.

Dick McDougall practised from 1946 to 1966 in a since-demolished building where the CIBC now stands in Oak Bay Village.

His son, Doug, practised in Oak Bay from 1954 to 1991, first across from his dad’s practice, at 2223 Oak Bay Ave. (now The Gallery), later moving further west to a location at 2108 Oak Bay Ave. Bob says his dad once had 700 children as patients – “it was the baby boom years.”

Dick served as an officer in the Canadian Dental Corps in London during the Second World War.

When Oak Bay resident Norman Hutchings came back from the war, he went to see the senior McDougall to have his teeth checked.

“He asked me ‘Where were you?’ and I told him and he said he’d been there, also,” Hutchings recalled.

“That’s how we met. We always had a grand old yack when I was due to go in to be checked.”

Bob was never pressured to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. It wasn’t until he was in his third year of university that his grandfather asked him about his career goals.

“He said ‘why are you going to university? What are you up to?’ That’s when I told him.”

Bob worked as a dental technician, putting in long, arduous hours in the same building as his dad until he was 23.

By that point the son noticed how happy his father was working shorter days than he was. “I asked myself, do I really want to keep on doing this?”

Bob decided to upgrade his high school grades, then completed his bachelor of science degree in biology at the University of Victoria and moved on to the University of British Columbia to study dentistry.

“I love this little corner,” Bob says of his current office at Oak Bay Avenue and Elgin Road, his professional home since he graduated from UBC. He took over his dad’s practice when Doug retired in 1991. “It’s a really nice place to work, especially when you grew up here.”

Doug served as president of the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C. for two years in the early 1970s.

Bob was on the board from 2005 to 2010 and was honoured by the college with an award of merit last year.

Although three generations of dentists may be intriguing, from Bob’s perspective it’s been equally interesting from the other side.

“There’s some families where I’ve had four generations at one point in time. And now I’m looking after people (like former teachers) who looked after me when I was a kid.”