"You're Going to Do What?": The Memoir of Dr. W Gifford-Jones


267 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55022-425-5
DDC 070.4'4961092





Cynthia R. Comacchio is an associate professor of history at Wilfrid
Laurier University. She is the author of Nations Are Built of Babies:
Saving Ontario’s Mothers and Children.


Most readers will know Gifford-Jones as the author of the best-selling
The Healthy Barmaid, as well as a popular syndicated column on health
and medical issues that has appeared weekly in many Canadian newspapers
for the past 25 years. In real life, he is Toronto-based gynecologist
Ken Walker. Although Walker initially scoffed at the notion of writing
his autobiography (“Were they both on the sauce?” he wondered of his
editor and agent when they approached him with the idea), the resulting
publication indicates that he eventually took up the project with the
directness, humor, and relish for which his Gifford-Jones writings are

Born in England of a Scottish father and English mother, Walker arrived
in Canada with his parents at the age of four. The family settled in
Niagara Falls, Ontario, where his father, a crane engineer, founded the
Provincial Engineering Company in Niagara Falls. Never “a brilliant
student,” Walker was nonetheless drawn to the study of medicine. He
attributes the attraction to his youthful fascination with the
“comings and goings” of doctors at the hospital that faced the
family home, and to his own “overwhelming desire” to find out about
the care and constitution of the human body.

With his noted wry humor and fearsome outspokenness, Walker takes us
through a career that saw him working variously as a hotel doctor,
ship’s surgeon, family physician, and gynecological specialist, all in
addition to his regular journalistic stints and book authorship. A
self-designated maverick, he is also known for his commitment to the
legalization of heroin to ease the suffering of terminal patients, his
pro-choice stance in the abortion campaign, and his no-holds-barred
battle against what he regards as the small-mindedness and lack of
common sense of government bureaucracies. All of this, along with his
controversial views on crime and punishment, is tackled in “You’re
Going to Do What?”. Not all readers will share the author’s vision,
and some may even find it repellent, but it certainly makes for
interesting reading.


Gifford-Jones, W., “"You're Going to Do What?": The Memoir of Dr. W Gifford-Jones,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/8076.