January 2, 2022
In Loving Memory ~
On Sunday, January 2nd, 2022, the world lost some of its luster with the passing of Dr. Loren Eugene Caira. Loren was a gifted doctor, intrepid adventurer, dedicated animal lover, awesome brother, uncle, and friend, and just an all- around remarkable human being. Loren's adventures began early in his life when, shortly after his birth in Newport, Rhode Island, he made his exit from the United States to Canada (having been given a mild dose of tincture of opium) in a pillowcase passed by his mom to his dad waiting at the border. He grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, on the banks of the Fifteen Mile Creek exploring its myriad wildlife with abandon, which helped foster what became his life-long fascination with lizards and snakes. After five years at Woodland public school, Loren's talent for mischief resulted in his being enrolled in Ridley College as a "day" boy. After four years in this more "disciplined" environment, Loren attended Beamsville High School where, although maintaining his mischievous behavior, his brilliance as a student began to emerge. He graduated as one of only a handful of Ontario Scholars in his class and went on to attend the University of British Columbia (UBC), in part to take advantage of the amazing skiing in the Rockies, but also to pursue a bachelor's degree in Psychology. In his third year he was accepted into UBC's medical school while simultaneously completing his bachelor's degree the following year. During medical school, he engaged in several clinical clerkships in the Natal region of South Africa and then returned to Canada to complete his internship at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. Seeking to obtain experience in the most challenging emergency room situations as possible, he did his residency at the University of California Los Angeles' Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. There he received the Theodore Jackson Award for outstanding achievement as a senior resident and ranked a phenomenal third in the country on the US national proficiency exam for emergency medicine. Only a year after completing his residency, he was certified in emergency medicine by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Thereafter, he worked as an Emergency Room physician at the West Hills Medical Center, also in Los Angeles. His leisure time in Los Angeles was...interesting. Fortunately, he managed to return to Canada—before the city devoured him—with his trusting, gentle nature fully intact. Upon his return, he was warmly welcomed by his dear friends Chuck and Veda as a guest in their home in Victoria...for three years.
Loren chose emergency medicine because he loved the challenge of diagnosing and resolving medical issues quickly and effectively—the more unusual and obscure the case, the better. He was a brilliant emergency room physician. Beyond his academic accolades, his talents were demonstrated on multiple occasions. Perhaps most notably in 2012, only three months after he arrived to work at the Lakes District Hospital in Burns Lake, during the explosion at the Babine Forest Products
Mill for which he received the 2013 award for exceptional contribution to family medicine from the B.C. College of Family Physicians. However, it was the signed paddle he was given by the First Nations Bands in the region in gratitude for his heroic efforts on their behalf that was one of his most prized possessions.
Loren's love for travel and adventure took him to Australia, Baja Mexico, Borneo, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Mozambique, New Guinea, Panama, Senegal, Tobago, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. But an idle traveler he was not. Most of his trips were to assist with scientific expeditions to discover new species, initially as an Earthwatch volunteer assisting herpetologists collecting snakes and lizards in Madagascar, but thereafter collecting tapeworms from sharks and stingrays around the world with his sister Janine and her students. As a result of Loren's prowess for hand spearing aquatic hosts and his perpetually light-hearted demeanor even in the face of exceptional adversity, students likened him to an aquatic version of A. A. Milne's "Tigger", and his moniker "Aquatig" emerged. In 2004, he achieved one of his life-long goals to summit Uhuru Peak (at 5,895 meters) of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Loren had a deep-seated passion for fishing. He took great pleasure in his biannual fishing trips for salmon and halibut off Vancouver Island with his long-time fishing buddies Chuck and Karl on their boat BiteMe, happily sharing the bounty of his many catches with his family and friends. He was an avid reader, devouring science fiction, and especially fantasy novels, with abandon. As a consequence, he served as an excellent resource for introducing new authors to those around him.
Above all else, Loren was a truly remarkable human being. Although brilliant, with a mind that could retain and integrate huge volumes of information, he was modest and unassuming. He was appreciated for his honest, direct, and forthright approach. He was a remarkably generous, trusting, kind, and gentle individual, with a respect for all life, accepting everyone for who and what they are without judgement. An optimist with a terrific sense of humor, he was just downright fun to be around.
Loren retired in 2020 to spend time in his home in Victoria with his new Great Dane/Great Pyrenees/ Anatolian Shepherd cross puppy, which characteristic of Loren's playful nature he called...Tink...short for Tinkerbell. Unfortunately, their time together and his time with his family and friends ended too soon. He is survived by his sisters Janine Caira, Nadia Caira, Daren Toivonen, Martene Harshaw, Rachel Caira, and Leean Caira, his nieces Katja Dekker, Caira Harshaw, and Briar Harshaw, and his nephews Anders Toivonen, Kristian Toivonen, Stefan Toivonen, and Drew Harshaw. He was loved. Our hearts are broken. We all miss him terribly.