Memorable Manitobans: Lawrence John “Lawrie” Stephen (1928-2005)


Born at Toronto, Ontario on 10 February 1928 to Adelaide Victoria Jenepher Fisher (1906-1984) and John Daun Stephen (1900-1985), he grew up at Dauphin. He met Betty Enid Dicks (1928-2016) of Dauphin when both were in junior high school, and they eventually married. As a youth, he spent summers at Clear Lake and worked as many as four jobs simultaneously: Free Press paper agent, Scott Fruit agent, ticket agent at the Roller Rink and at Danceland, and numerous stints as lifeguard at the Main Beach. He then attended the University of Manitoba, where he graduated with a BSc degree majoring in Biology. After spending a year and a half at Great Slave Lake as a fish biologist, he returned to the university in the Faculty of Medicine. Upon graduation in 1955, after winning the Sara Meltzer prize for highest academic standings through his first four years of study, he completed a year of residency in Family Medicine.

He then moved his family to Dauphin, where he set up practice with his father-in-law, Royal Edwin Dicks (1890-1972), and William Gordon David Ritchie. His first patient was a dog. He went on to spend his entire professional career treating humans in the Dauphin area. During his busy medical career, he not only made numerous friends of the thousands of patients he served but also those through his professional associations. He served as President of the Manitoba Medical Association (1971-1972) as well as holding various positions as a member of the Board of the Canadian Medical Association. His main focus with the national body was as a member of the Physicians Recruitment Board. He was also a Fellow of the Royal College of Family Physicians, President of the Manitoba Chapter of the College of Family Physicians, and an Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba Medical College, where he initiated the practice of fourth-year medical students spending time in a rural setting engaged in family practice. He was a co-founder of the Dauphin Medical Clinic, and was instrumental in bringing the Cardiac Refit Program to the Dauphin area.

After entering semi-retirement, he spent time as one of the “flying doctors” with the Manitoba Department of Northern Affairs servicing communities in many northern areas and in particular, a spot that was special for him at God’s Lake Narrows. He completed his career as the Vice-President for Medical Services for the Parkland Regional Health Authority.

Besides being active in professional organizations, he served his community as a member of the Dauphin/Ochre School Board; was a founding member of the Dauphin Legion Pipe Band; a representative for the Parkland Region on the Board of the Manitoba Naturalists’ Society; a founding member of the Dauphin Dolphins SCUBA club, co-founding the Annual Child’s Lake Spear Fishing competition; and was a member of the Manitoba Underwater Council for 35 years. As a member of the Masonic Order (Vermillion Lodge No. 68), he served as its Master in 1965 and was honoured to be installed as District Deputy Grand Master of District 9 in 2002. He was also a Past President of the Parkland District Khartum Shriners.

For leisure, he enjoyed hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, camping, and bird-watching, and participated in and completed three Manitoba Marathons when in his 50s. He hiked in the Riding Mountains and fished the lakes and streams around Dauphin, as well as with his “Northern family” at God’s Lake Narrows. Photography was an important pastime for him, and he spent many hours taking award-winning photographs of animals, birds, and the outdoors in general, which he shared as slideshows for the community. He and his wife travelled extensively with the Wally Byam Caravan Club, taking the opportunity to promote the attributes of Manitoba, and in particular Dauphin, as they visited different parts of North America in their Airstream trailer. In 1994, as the International President of the club, he worked extensively with both the Federal and Provincial Ministries of Tourism, as well as the City of Brandon, to bring 5000 people and 2500 Airstream trailers to the Brandon area for their annual International Rally. He was also an avid ham radio operator.

He died at Dauphin on 5 July 2005. He and his wife Betty Enid Dicks (1928-2016) had four children.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 9 July 2005.

Obituary [Betty Enid Stephen], Winnipeg Free Press, 16 April 2016.

“Lawrence John Stephen,” Graham Glidden Family Tree, Ancestry.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

This page was prepared by Lois Braun.

Page revised: 13 September 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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