William Pryse-Phillips

Occupation: Professor of Medicine (Neurology) at MUN

Bio: Dr. Pryse-Phillips is the reason Rawlin’s Cross looks so darn pretty in the summertime—but we’re getting ahead of ourselves… Born in London, England, in 1937, he and his family left London at the end of the Battle of Britain and moved to Farnham. He attended the University of London, graduated as a physician in 1961 and ended up in northern Alberta working as a physician. He went back to London, completed training in neurology, and returned to Canada. In 1972, when neurology was a very new field, he took a job in Neurology at MUN, the only academic job in Neurology available in Canada. He’s been here ever since and just completed the third edition of The Companion to Clinical Neurology.

How did you come to be the caretaker of the flower gardens at Rawlin’s Cross?: “About five years ago I noticed that that triangle of grass was not more than a receptacle for Tim Horton’s mugs and cigarette butts, so I asked the city if I could take it over.  They said yes, that they had a program for that called Adopt a Spot. They came and looked at me and thought I was a sensible and upright citizen and so it began.”

So the city has been supportive?: “In the parks, when the tulips and daffodils are spent, the city workers  take them up and leave them for people to take. I’ve asked if I could have some of the flowers and they’ve been extremely generous.” The city also provided a sizable load of topsoil for him to begin with. He is less impressed with their habit of using the gardens as a wintertime snow dumping site.

It must have been amazing to see the field of Neurology grow as it has.: “It used to be the case that you went to a neurologist just to make a diagnosis and that was that. But today there are many treatments for all sorts of things like Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. I wish I could start again now so that I could see what is going to happen in the next twenty five or thirty five years, because it is just so exciting.”

­— Sarah Smellie


  1. Ken O'Brien · January 10, 2011

    It’s nice to see this kind of public spirit — a citizen helping keep a public space beautiful.

  2. Sarah · January 10, 2011

    It is, indeed!Here’s hoping we see lots more of it!