All In The Family: Three Generations of U of S Pharmacists

By David Shield

Fifty years ago, it was practically expected that sons and daughters would follow in their parents' footsteps. From skilled trades to the family farm, young people would work alongside their parents, learning skills that would eventually be used when they took over the family business. For the most part, those days are over.

That is, except at Paul's Pharmacy in Preeceville, Saskatchewan.

For the last 80 years, three generations of pharmacists, all trained at the U of S, have presided over the small town pharmacy - in business since 1938 - located about 100 kilometers north of Yorkton.

Drug Store and our home upstairs. June 1955

The drugstore in Preeceville with the Paul�s home upstairs. June 1955.

It all started with J. Edwin (Ed) Paul, who graduated from the Pharmacy program in 1926. A well-respected member of Saskatchewan's pharmaceutical community, Ed not only took in many U of S students as interns over the years, but was also a driving force behind building Preeceville's first hospital.

John Edwin Paul, July 1966.

John Edwin Paul, July 1966.

Ed didn't start out in Preeceville, however; he originally set up shop in Saskatoon and later Star City. Bad luck plagued Ed's early career. A tuberculosis outbreak forced him out of Saskatoon and a huge fire destroyed the pharmacy in Star City. He eventually relocated to Preeceville, where he stayed for the rest of his life.

Ed's two sons-Dean (BSP'66) and Clair (BSP'68) started working at the family business, eventually taking the pharmacy over. Last year, Clair's son Trent graduated from Pharmacy at the U of S and also has plans on taking over the business from his dad.

Drug Store

L-R: Ed, Clair, and Dean behind the counter. Early 1970s.

Clair says a lot has changed over the years in his profession-especially in the instruction students receive at the U of S. While the first two generations received more or less the same training, Clair says he's noticed great leaps forward with his son's education.

For one thing, he says Trent gained much more 'on-the-ground knowledge' about pharmacy during his time at the University.

"When we went to school, it was chemistry and physics and biology and all that the first year, and we didn't have a great deal to do with pharmacy. You took a couple of classes with doctors and that, but now it's completely different. They come out of there with a lot of practical knowledge."

While he enjoyed his time at the U of S, Clair says he never considered living anywhere other than Preeceville.

"I would not move to the city. I had four years of it in university, and that was enough. I didn't mind the life when I was young and single, but then I had a family and had no desire to go to the city. The small town was an ideal thing. You knew everybody [and] you could go wherever you wanted."

L-R Dean, Trent, and Clair 'On Duty', September 2007.

L-R Dean, Trent, and Clair 'On Duty', September 2007.

While Clair's son, Trent, agrees, he didn't come to that conclusion right away. He left the University after his second year. However, eight years later, he returned to the U of S, finished his Pharmacy degree, and says he's set on continuing the family business.

Trent, who just won the Apotex/Representative Board of Saskatchewan Pharmacists Future Leader Award last spring, believes strongly that he's able to provide a better level of service to his customers in a small-town environment. He knows most of his customers and is on a first name basis with the town's doctors.

"All I need is a thank you," he says. "That's the joy I get out of what I do."

Perhaps more than anything, though, Clair's glad his son has returned to Preeceville. He's been a pharmacist for 40 years now, and says he's getting tired of running the business and wants to hand it over to someone else. He's glad his son has decided to come back home.

The drugstore today (2008).

The drugstore today.

"It's been a long haul by myself for the past 7 years. Keeping it a family business has always been number one for me."

Photos courtesy of the Paul family.
David Shield is a freelance writer living in Saskatoon.