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About Dr. Andries Botha

by Sharon Reichert
Mile Zero News Reporter

Dr. Andries Botha is one of Grimshaw, Alberta's three doctors. Botha was born and raised in South Africa and first came to Canada when he was invited by a friend to practice Sport's Medicine in Inuvik, North West Territories. Botha had never heard of Inuvik but he agreed to go there for a short time. He stayed there three years and has been in Canada ever since. He said that the summers, with their constant sunlight, were more difficult than you might think. People would come to him for treatment at all hours of the night and no one ever wanted to sleep. In the winter it is just the opposite, people forget to get up. The winters don't get too much colder than here but the cold spells last longer, according to Botha.

After his time up north, Botha lived in Edson for two years. Botha found Grimshaw very welcoming when he moved here, even though the only person he knew was Dr. Wouter Dehaeck, another of Grimshaw's doctors. Dehaeck and Dr. Francois Klassen, Grimshaw's third doctor, are also from South Africa. Keeping doctors in rural, northern communities has proved to be difficult but Grimshaw is fortunate to have three doctors who have been settled here for awhile now.

Botha noted the differences in climate among the places he's lived and said that a person can adapt to anything, it's a matter of attitude. Having been in Canada for several years now, he isn't sure he could ever live in South Africa again. "You can't belong to two places," he said, adding that when you leave a place everything changes, including you.

Over the years, Botha has run more than 40 marathons, including nine 90 km races, he has cycled across South Africa, across the USA in 34 days without assistance, from Seattle to Los Angeles and the 500 km from Grimshaw to Edmonton in 1996 as a fund raiser for fitness equipment for the hospital. Once he also cycled 180 km from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk on an ice road in -25 degrees Celsius temperatures in a single day.

This year he was the Grimshaw Huskies Hockey Club team doctor. He was also the team doctor for the South African team at the 100 km World Championship road run in Japan in 1994 and Holland in 1996/97.

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