From the time that Ed McGrath was just ten years old, he knew exactly what he wanted to do and do it was exactly what he did.
Ed was born and raised in the historically rich and culturally diverse city of
St. John, New Brunswick. His father was a plumber/pipefitter who encouraged his sons to pursue higher learning. “Dad worked hard and he always encouraged us to do something where we didn’t have to get our hands dirty,” he laughed.
St. John is the largest city on the Bay of Fundy where historic buildings dot the banks of the St. John River and the St. John Harbour. As with any Maritime community, it offers a unique quality of life and beautiful wide, open spaces. “I loved it and it really was a great place to grow up. I was into sports of any kind and played a bit of hockey but mostly soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and badminton. I enjoyed fishing and hunting with my dad and from the time that I was a little kid, I spent my summers haying fields and feeding the cows on my grandfather’s farm,” he reflected.
By the time that he’d reached the tender age of ten, Ed had resolved that he’d like to become a dentist. “I liked working with my hands and was fascinated by science; biology in particular. I could have become a doctor but becoming a physician meant that I’d be on call 24/7. I didn’t want to go that route so I decided that dentistry was the best way to go,” he said.
Ed left New Brunswick for Antigonish, Nova Scotia to attend St. Francis Xavier University, where he received his undergraduate degree. “I went to McGill University for dentistry. I’m a lifelong Habs fan so living in Montreal for four years was great. The Canucks are a close second, though,” he chuckled. Paying for your undergraduate degree is one thing but living in Montreal and attending dentistry school is rather expensive and the prospect of paying for student loans for years and years was rather overwhelming for Ed. “During my second year of dentistry school, a colonel from the military came to speak to my class and I decided that I’d let the military pay for my education and they did in fact pay for the latter part of my schooling.”
This meant that he had to pay them back by committing time to the military. “I had asked for a posting in Germany or BC, since I had never been west of Toronto.” Once he graduated, he was sent to Comox for a summer and was then posted to Chilliwack where he became the dentist on the base for four years. In 1993, Ed, along with two other colleagues, bought their own practice. Four years later, they built Valley Dental Group on Knight Road, behind the Chilliwack Mall.
In an effort to give back to the community, Ed decided to join Rotary in 1995 and has been a dedicated member of the Chilliwack Mt. Cheam Rotary Club ever since then. One of the events that is near and dear to his heart and that he dedicates a lot of time to is the CATT Fund Tournament (Chilliwack Athletes for Turkeys and Tots). “This is a volleyball tournament, both recreational and skilled, that happens every year. It’s coming up November 25th & 26th and over the last 24 years, we have collected over 10,000 toys and $197,000 which helps children in our community at Christmastime. All of the proceeds are given to Chilliwack Community Services and through their Christmas sharing program, they’re able to help kids that need a little extra help at this time of the year. This is a great event and when you have your own kids it seems to become even more important. I really appreciate that it’s a hands-on event and I’m pleased to see the immediate results of it,” he said. For more information, check out www.cattfund.com” www.cattfund.com