Over fifty attendees gathered in Parkland Terrace on Sunday morning for the unveiling of a new park named after the prolific Dr. William Henry Sparling East.
East was a prominent medical figure in Fernie, coming to the city in 1945 to open a medical practice, following his years of training at Manitoba Medical School and Winnipeg General Hospital. The medical practice East opened in Fernie serviced the city for 45 years. During that time, he delivered over 2,500 babies.
Spokesperson for the Parkland Terrace Park Committee, Tara Beck, explained, “We were looking for an appropriate name to name the park and Dr. East is someone who has done everything for this community. He and his family really shaped the community aspect of this town.”
East served as a member of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, the Senior Citizens Association and the Fernie Rotary Club, where he also served as president. East’s presidency covered the East Kootenay Medical Association, the B.C. Coroners Association, Medical Staff of Fernie District Hospital [four times] and Chief of Staff at the same hospital [three times].
East’s legacy continues today with the 1992 creation of the Dr. Sparling East Scholarship Fund, providing annual scholarships to graduating Fernie Secondary students entering post-secondary medical education.
The park that now bears Dr. East’s name represents a life spent giving back to the community he loved.
Future plans for the park include benches, eventually being linked up into the Fernie trail network and potentially the installation of a playground.
East peacefully passed away at age 94 in June 2007.