Dr. W. Gifford Jones, right, chats with Bertha Ferguson during a visit to Charlottetown.
©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
The waiting room for this doctor was a few flights of wide stairs.
Some 450 Islanders lined up inside the Delta Prince Edward in hopes of hearing sage health advice from Dr. W. Gifford Jones.
The turnout was more than double that expected for the doctor’s recent presentation on the role of two key nutrients in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.
So half the audience needed to be stampeded down the stairs, into a second room, to watch Gifford Jones on a screen rather than in person.
The personable 90-year-old doctor, however, likes to make direct contact whenever possible with those counted among the millions who read his weekly column called The Doctor Game.
So Gifford Jones approached the large crowd to meet with as many as he could before heading back into a room to give his free lecture.
“I just think it’s polite,’’ he said during a telephone interview from his home in Toronto.
Once, in Windsor, about 600 people turned up to hear him speak when only one-third of that number was anticipated. He told the overflow that if they wanted to wait 45 minutes to one hour, he would give his presentation again.
They did. And he did.
Clearly, Gifford Jones (AKA Ken Walker) can draw a crowd. He can also draw in the readers.
His column runs in about 60 newspapers in Canada, including The Guardian, and several more in the United States and the Epoch Times which has editions in a number of European countries.
In total, five to six million people read his column that he has pumped out weekly (never missing a single week) for 38 years.
“That’s the addictive part,’’ he notes.
“You know you have a large audience.’’
Articles on cholesterol seem to garner the largest response from his readers.
He also has no fear of typing outside the mainstream box. He once wrote a column singing the praises of putting a pub in every hospital.
His oft-repeated message — the one he believes has resonated well with readers — is to lead a good, healthy lifestyle. Control weight. Don’t smoke. Eat well.
Ilene MacNeill, 84, of Cornwall has been a faithful reader of the doctor’s column for several years.
“It’s always informative — things that you can apply to yourself,’’ she said while standing in line June 10 waiting to hear Gifford Jones speak.
“Well, it’s down to earth. It’s everyday plain language.’’
As for his own health, Gifford Jones rebounded well from a severe heart attack at age 74.
Sixteen years later, he considers himself in “pretty good’’ health, enduring a few aches and pains here and there, and using a cane when he walks.
He is not on any medication but each day he takes 10,000 milligrams of Vitamin C and 5,000 milligrams of lysine, an amino acid.
He visits his doctor once a year for a physical.
And Gifford Jones feels plenty fit to continue hammering out his healthy advice once a week.
“I like what I’m doing,’’ he says.
“I like to get up in the morning and get to the computer and work...I will retire when my editors fire me or when I die.’’