In Memory of Dr. Alex Bryans


BY pgs-admin
7 December 2009

PGS  fondly remembers, Dr. Alex Bryans, loved  for his kindness, generosity and devotion to peace and humanity


Dr. Mike Schull

What sad news. Thanks so much for tracking me down. The last time I saw him was in 2006 at Queen’s, and he looked a bit frail then, I was worried about him.

In 2006 I spoke at the Queen’s med school convocation, I wanted to be sure to mention the mentorship I had received at Queen’s. The most powerful mentor by far was Alex, and I was delighted he was in the audience that day. I rooted around to find my speech, and here’s what I said about him: “Without exaggeration I can tell you that [Queen’s] changed my life, that by coming to Kingston I discovered the world. Here, professors seeded young minds with ideas, and we, the students, tended to them through argument and debate. Some of those ideas have grown into the issues that have come to preoccupy me and help define my life. But a very few of the people I met at Queen’s showed me how ideas can lead to action, and how a life can then take form. One of those professors is here today, and I’d like to acknowledge him, he is Dr Alex Bryans, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, a man who introduced notions of social responsibility and caring for those most vulnerable to several generations of young medical students. Thank you Alex, on behalf of all of us who were lucky enough to benefit from your wisdom and your kindness.” I would have said more, but the Dean gave me only 8 minutes for the entire speech!

He was a wonderful, kind, self-effacing and generous man. One of a kind. A wonderful mentor, and he made it all seem so natural…you didn’t realize you were being mentored. I doubt he even knew what wonderful impact he had on so many young minds…and if he did I’m sure he would not have admit to it.

I am in Malawi on a research sabbatical for a year, here with my wife and kids. I’m doing HIV related research. Somehow I doubt I’d be sitting here if I’d never met Alex.


Dr. Sylvia Keet Peebles

I am very saddened by the passing of Alex Bryans and extend condolences to his wife Elaine, and to his family.

He was deeply committed to the Abolition of Nuclear weapons, and to a future Nuclear weapon Free world. Also a well respected Paediatrician and Chair of the Kingston Children’s department, and Professor of Paediatrics and also an Artist…his paintings I remember always had a message expressing his concerns.

I have known Alex over a number of years since I joined CPPNW in the early 80’s and started going to meetings.

Alex was always there, playing a leading role in the early days, and had been President before my time

My first vivid memory of Alex was sitting next to him on the plane, coming back from Hiroshima and Nagasaki ( IPPNW Conference 1987) , and we were both deeply impressed by the meetings, and our experiences meeting Japanese students and people and the A-Bomb museum.. Alex was passionate about nuclear abolition and the role of CPPNW (now PGS).

Both being Paediatricians, we shared a dedication to the children and future generations, and the world they would inherit.

In 1984, with CPS (Canadian Paediatric Society) CHAMP project, we spent sabbatical time in Uganda, and Alex’s wife Elaine was there, and we shared some exciting and sometimes scary times with tribal fighting..this was shortly after Idi Amin’s regime , and the city was destroyed by the war. .In the children’s wards and neonatal units we saw drastic situations and interesting tropical diseases never seen before..our role was to do teaching rounds with the medical students and hands on medicine.

To my astonishment Alex organised a formal lecture with slides about Nuclear weapons, and the danger to civilization ! was well attended…but In Africa at that time it seemed a distant problem for Africans to worry about, compare with the tetanus, malaria, TB ,and measles ..and the toll that war was having on their children. Tribal fighting and death toll of local residents happened every night after curfew.

Alex and Elaine were wonderful people to spend time with, we shared an apartment on the University campus and had some good times together.

Thanks Alex for your influence on my life and for the memories…Sylvia

Dr. Nancy Covington

During second year medical school at Queen’s (about 1969), Alex was my ‘clinical skills’ teacher and epitomized my ideal of an incredibly caring physician, with an amazing ability to relate to parent and child alike. I next met him in a different setting – a community clinic in north Kingston, where I witnessed the fact that he was not just a pediatrician, but also a physician who could relate to the socially disadvantaged in society.

Later, we both joined Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) from different parts of the country and I was pleasantly surprised to meet up with him again at one of our national meetings.

PSR became CPPNW and Alex’s CPPNW license plate was proudly displayed.

He skillfully managed tricky meetings and made the CPPNW meeting that was held in Halifax in the late 1980’s a memorable event.

It is fitting that PGS’s new research award should have his name attached to it and I am glad he was able to attend the public announcement of the award. He touched the lives of many, not just children, but students, people who heard him speak, readers of Kingston Whig Standard as well as the PGS group, who really saw him as one of the founding fathers of CPPNW/PGS.


Dr. Mark Leith

I had the pleasure as well of knowing Alex. He was a warm, thoughtful and caring man and who made you feel very welcomed at PGS. In particular he had a wonderful way of connecting to medical students, many of whom became involved because of Alex’s influence. He will be very much missed.

Dr. Stan Eaman

I echo Marks comments. Interactions with Alex always left one with a warm feeling. Now that is a gift we might all aspire to.


Dr. Charles King

Alex was a lovely, thoughtful gentle man who made those early meetings at CPPNW and PGS a pleasure. His careful, and caring approach to the issues and the dynamics of the people around the table were incredibly instructive for those of us newer to the organization. He mentored many, in many ways. Alex was an early and vigorous supporter of Wendy’s “One World” T-shirt line – he probably single-handedly raised lots of dough for PGs in those days, using those shirts as fund-raisers in Kingston. He will be missed.

Dr. Barbara Birkett

Whenever Alex was around one felt the presence of a true peacemaker. He was such an important person in PGS’ history. We shall miss a great physician and gentleman. Our deepest sympathy to all the family.

Barbara Birkett.

Dr. Joanna Santa Barbara

I too would like to add a word of loving memory of Alex. In the arena of Global Health, I met so many people who were inspired as students by Alex. I loved hearing about his time working in Africa, quite long ago.

My visual image of Alex is one that includes his paintings. He did a number of beautiful paintings connected to themes of peace and gave them to PGS.

Genial, kind, wise – he was one of the world’s noble people who make it a better place for having lived with us.


sunflowers at Hiroshima

Painting by the late Dr. Alex Bryans – Sunflowers at Hiroshima, 1998

Dr. Marina Salvadori

Thanks for letting me know about Alex Bryans. I had actually been thinking about him and thinking I should let him know what became of me. Many memories were stirred up after reconnecting with you. Alex is the reason I became a pediatrician, and my most cherished grad photo is one of he and I standing together in our gowns. What a special and remarkable person he was.


Debbie Grisdale

I have many many fond memories of working with Alex over my years at PGS, including the day he and Elinor hired me. He was a very caring and compassionate human being. He was always close at hand if I needed to consult someone, he came regularly to Ottawa to represent PGS and participate in CNANW meetings, his support of activities in the office was always strong. His paintings related to abolition work and to the campaign to ban landmines gave a new and important dimension to our work. He publicly demonstrated his unfailing support of efforts to abolish nuclear weapons and to PGS, in its various incarnations, in many ways – including the license plate of his car which read “CPPNW”. He did make the world a better place –


Dr. Elinor Powell

I must add my regrets at the passing of Alex Bryans.

He was such a stalwart in our organization when we held those early meetings in Toronto and Ottawa and elsewhere.

We can just be thankful that such people existed and added their wise words at critical times.


Alex and Mary Wynne

Dr. Alex Bryans and Dr. Mary Wynne Ashford in the days of CPPNW