A Fraser Valley veterinarian was honoured by an Aldergrove artist on Friday for his long-time efforts tending to injured and endangered wildlife in the Fraser Valley.
Susan Gorris unveiled her portrait of Dr. Ken MacQuisten in what onlookers remarked was his favourite shirt. In the oil painting, MacQuisten flashes a distinguished smile as he holds a bear cub in his arms.
“You are a kind, attentive, and extraordinary veterinarian who introduces yourself to each and every animal,” Gorris said after presenting her artwork to MacQuisten at his Townline Veterinary Hospital in Abbotsford.
“When I brought in my pet turkey who had a bummed leg,” in a last-ditch effort over 12 years ago, Gorris mentioned the doc didn’t laugh at her.
“When you’re in the animal business long enough you start to learn the language” of animals and their owners, MacQuisten said.
The veterinarian was a keynote speaker at the 20th anniversary Critter Care gala, a fundraiser for a wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Langley.
There, he educated more than 300 attendees on the nuances of grizzly bears – one of his “favourite animals,” and the dangers their species currently face in the wild.
For more than 35 years, this veterinarian has treated animals at Critter Care rehabilitation facility at no cost on a rotating basis with other practitioners in the Fraser Valley. He has practised veterinary medicine in the area since 1981.
“I donate my time as a public service, and I’ve been out there numerous time to assist,” MacQuisten explained.
In the domestic realm – the veterinarian has cared for a wide range of Gorris’ animals including the turkey, peafowl, numerous chickens, cats and a dog.
Gorris said it took “many hours” to perfect the facial colour tones in her painting of the doctor.
“It takes a lot of work to make a portrait of a specific person. At times I really struggled with it,” she admitted to the Aldergrove Star.
A blue frame donated to Critter Care by Langley business Mac’s Framing, encapsulates the portrait.
“It’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me,” MacQuisten said upon first glance of the painting.
“I used to live next to a ravine in Edmonton, and local zoo, so I’d spend a lot of time at both places. I was the kid that used to come home with frogs in his pocket,” MacQuisten shared.
He took the painting home where his family was in awe of Gorris’ generosity.
“It’s a beautiful tribute,” MacQuisten said – “to the best career in the world.”
The portrait was modelled after a photograph of Dr. Ken MacQuisten holding a black bear cub at Critter Care in January.
MacQuisten – the former director of the Greater Vancouver Zoo as well as SPCA – also founded several animal refuges including Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge in Golden, and the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife.
Both organizations seek long term solutions for the welfare of grizzly bears and other endangered B.C. wildlife.