Doctors Dean Ducas and Mary Smar announced their retirement in December 2022.
The married family doctors provided dedicated care to the people of Cornwall and SDG for 35 years.
To thank them for their years of service to the community, Seaway News with the help of their children, Eva and Christopher Ducas, put together a profile of their careers and would like to wish them the best in their retirement.
Dr. Smar and Dr. Ducas met at McGill University Medical School. They graduated in 1983 and 1985, respectively.
From 1985 to 1986 Dr. Ducas completed an internship with Dalhousie University at Victoria General Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dr. Smar completed her internship and residency in family medicine at McGill University in Montreal.
They were married in July of 1987.
During their medical training Doctors Ducas and Smar completed medical rotations in small rural maritime communities, something that they both enjoyed.
From June 1986 to June 1987, the pair worked as general practitioners (i.e. family doctors) at the Moose Factory General Hospital in Northern Ontario, driven by their desire to work with indigenous communities.
The need for doctors in Cornwall and SDG and their proximity to Ottawa and Montreal were what drew Ducas and Smar to this area next.
Beginning in January 1988, the couple took over the practice of Dr. Rae in Avonmore following his retirement. Ducas and Smar spent more than 19 years providing care to more than 2,000 patients at the Roxborough Clinic in Avonmore.
Before the amalgamation of the Hotel Dieu and General Hospitals, Ducas and Smar did daily rounds at the two Cornwall hospitals prior to seeing patients in-office in Avonmore. They continued their duties at the Cornwall Community Hospital upon its creation.
In February 2007, the couple moved their practice to Thirteenth Street in Cornwall. Many patients followed them to their new office referred to as the “Cornwall Medical Associates” clinic.
Both doctors also worked at the Pitt Street Medical Centre walk-in clinic in addition to their private family medicine practice.
Shortly after launching their practice in Avonmore, Doctors Ducas and Smar had two children. Eva was born in 1989 and Christopher was born in 1991. Today, both of their children reside in Ottawa with their partners. The doctors also have two grandchildren, Holden and Hudson.
Eva shared that growing up with two doctors as parents was inspiring, especially since they worked together.
“Mom and Dad both ran the family practice,” Eva told Seaway News, “They were the only doctors in their practice, so it was pretty incredible to see, not only managing a family but running a practice on their own. Seeing a lot of work ethic but they also were very present in their kids’ lives.”
In addition to their immediate family, Ducas and Smar had several staff members who were like family.
“Throughout their careers my parents were supported by various administrative staff, who diligently supported the medical practice and without whom they would not have been able to successfully support the community. Most notably, Linda Peck and Claudia Adamowski provided expert administrative support for several years until their respective retirements, and followed the practice from Avonmore to Cornwall. In more recent years, Alison Edgar provided excellent administrative management of the family practice,” shared Eva.
Ducas and Smar set out to have an active practice in the community and were very successful. They dealt with all aspects of family medicine including pediatrics, obstetrics in their early years, with a greater focus on geriatrics later on. The doctors worked where they were needed in the community, including through the pandemic alongside other health care professionals, and made home visits up until their retirement.
Dr. Mary Smar was particularly dedicated to delivering end-of-life care at the Cornwall Hospice, while later in his career her husband Dr. Dean Ducas became an advocate for medical marijuana, conducting more than 400 patient consultations.
As profiled by Seaway News in 2018, Dr. Ducas began authorizing patients to use medical marijuana in 2014. He expressed that while many doctors use medical marijuana as a last resort it should be the other way around. Many doctors prescribe opioids before medical marijuana, even though they carry a much higher risk of overdose.
In addition to offering consultations to clients, Ducas also made presentations to doctors in the community to educate and create a discussion around medical marijuana.
Dr. Ducas and Dr. Smar were highly dedicated to their patients. Many patients were with them for more than thirty years – this included providing care to multiple generations within a single family. They routinely provided home visits, even up until their retirement, and visited their patients in hospital.
Like other medical practitioners, Ducas and Smar continued to provide dedicated care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and innovated to keep the community safe by offering several drive-through vaccination clinics for flu-shots.
Dr. Ducas is an avid photographer and motorcyclist. Both doctors enjoy spending time outdoors and canoeing together with their dog, Misha. They plan to enjoy these hobbies into their retirement, as well as extra time with their children and grandchildren in Ottawa.
Any patients or community members who would like to send Dr. Smar and Ducas well wishes for their retirement can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org