Donna Taylor – physician, humanitarian, artist

·4 min read

Although she is a long way from where she grew up, Donna Taylor has established herself in the Kincardine community and takes full advantage of all the area has to offer.

Taylor grew up on a small farm in Northern Ontario, the younger of two sisters, with her parents.

She first left the family farm at 19, to attend Western University in London, where she would eventually earn her medical degree. She finished her residency in Regina, and then with husband David Kohut, an engineer, spent the next ten years practicing medicine in the small town of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

It was in Portage that she had both of her children, Taylor and Max. When the boys were barely old enough to begin school, her husband applied for a position at Bruce Power and she responded to an ad looking for a physician in Kincardine – “the ads came up for both jobs at the same time” said Taylor.

She and her husband were offered, and accepted, the new positions, and so in 1989, the family of four was off to Kincardine.

Those were busy times for Taylor. She first worked out of the clinic on Lambton Street, then transferred, along with Dr. Wiebe, to a clinic at the mall. She remained there until all physicians moved “up on to the hill,” beside the Kincardine Hospital.

Taylor recalls working between 60 and 100 hours per week, while raising two little boys, and said “when we moved we didn’t have any family support.” It also didn’t leave much time for hobbies or volunteering.

By 2010, after 30 years of practicing medicine, Taylor was ready to retire, at least from full time work. She continued to work locums and worked in the emergency department for the next two-three years, but managing a full time practice was behind her.

Taylor has pursued hobbies that reflect her interests as a health professional and those that have a more creative and love-of-the-outdoors focus.

It was after she retired that she picked up a paint brush, having painted years before as a child. A friend, who was part of the Victoria Park Gallery, reintroduced her to the discipline when she asked Taylor to take a painting class with her. She continued to paint and eventually joined the Gallery around 2008, where she is currently the president. Her preferred work is in water colour, with a preference for painting landscapes and the sky and water, saying she is inspired by the view of the lake right outside her back door.

“I find painting is very stress relieving,” said Taylor in her Gallery bio. “When I am painting I am so immersed that I am not aware of anything else in the world and my worries melt away. My greatest thrill was having one of my paintings chosen to hang in our county municipal office in Walkerton in 2014.”

She is also a member of the Huron Fringe Field Naturalists, a group of about 120 members who meet monthly and maintain the goals of preserving wildlife and its habitat and promoting the area’s natural heritage.

A commitment that takes Taylor and her husband nearly 8,000 kilometres from home is their participation in Medical Mercy Canada, a volunteer organization that provides support to communities in the Ukraine and along the Myanmar (Burmese) borders of Thailand and India. For the last decade, for about one month each year, the couple travels to small villages in the Ukraine to assist local residents with infrastructure problems and obtaining medical supplies. These humanitarian trips have been on pause since 2019, when the pandemic limited travel and Taylor hopes to resume the visits when travel conditions ease. Taylor and her husband are currently on Medical Mercy Canada’s board of directors.

Closer to home, Taylor sits on the board of directors at Keystone Child, Youth and Family Services, a government organization that provides free mental health services for youth and their families who require counselling. Just recently, the organization was the recipient of a significant donation from 100peoplewhoshare Bruce County.

Finally, she has been a member of the Kincardine chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women, an advocacy group that promotes awareness and change surrounding issues that affect women both locally and internationally.

Taylor has kept busy through the pandemic, staying connected with friends and colleagues via Zoom. She and her husband are avid travelers, and are on the road sometimes as much as three months each year. The couple hopes to resume their adventures in the near future.

Even with her adventures around the world, she still enjoys her life in Kincardine.

“The lake, the view from my house, is like no other,” said Taylor. “My one son still lives here so I get to see him and his family on a regular basis.”

Tammy Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent

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