Dr. Elmer “John” Allen Near was born on the 15th of March, 1943 in Prince George, British Columbia. His parents were Elmer and Dorothy (Lackey) Near and he has a sister, Joyce. The family was living in Prince George at the time of his birth, to be closer to his father who was serving with the Canadian Armed Services, during World War II. When Dr. Near was 2 years old, his parents moved back to Chatham, Ontario to a home on Louise Street. His father worked for Union Gas.
Dr. Near attended McKeough Public School from Kindergarten to grade 8. He attended Chatham Collegiate Institute (C.C.I.) for grade 9, Tecumseh Secondary School for grade 10, but returned to C.C.I. for grades 11-13. After completing high school, Dr. Near attended the University of Western Ontario, graduating in 1964 with his B.A. He was accepted into medical school at the University of Western Ontario and graduated M.D. in 1968. Dr. Near interned at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton until 1969. Dr. Near received his CCFP (Certificant College of Family Physicians) in 1974, his certification in ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) in 2001, and his ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) in 2004. Also in 2004 Dr. Near received his FCFP (Fellow College of Family Physicians).
Dr. Near met his wife Lynn (Stuart) during his first year of medical school. Mrs. Near is the daughter of Harold and Helen Stuart and she grew up in Chatham Township (Kent County). Her father farmed and her mother was a nurse. Mrs. Near completed her degree at the University of Western Ontario. She graduated with her B.A. in French and Latin in 1968. Dr. and Mrs. Near were married at St. Andrew’s United Church in Chatham on the 1st of June, 1968. Dr. and Mrs. Near have 3 children, Timothy, Laurie and Peter. Mrs. Near taught school for many years at St. Clair College in Chatham and Tecumseh Public School. (This is the same school that Dr. Near attended for Grade 10, which used to be a Secondary School.)
After completing his internship in Hamilton, Dr. Near worked in Port Colborne, Ontario for 2 years. In 1971, Dr. and Mrs. Near moved to Chatham and Dr. Near set up his medical practice at 226 St. Clair Street. Over the years, Dr. Near held a number of positions within the medical community of Chatham, including President of Medical Staff, Chief of General Practice and Chief of Emergency. He also served on the Board of Directors of The Children’s Treatment Centre, The Victorian Order of Nurses, The Multiple Sclerosis Society, The Placement Co-ordination Services, The Ministry of Health Medical Manpower Planning Committee (Toronto) and The Area Emergency Services Committee (London). Dr. Near also developed, supervised and participated in the After-Hours Family Practice Clinic at the Chatham Public General Hospital from 1996-2004.
Dr. Near was an Adjunct Professor for the University of Western Ontario Medical School, teaching second year Family Medicine Residents at his Chatham practice and at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance from 1995-2004. Dr. Near closed his family practice in 2001 and focused on being an Emergency Room Physician at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance from 2001-2004. Dr. and Mrs. Near moved to Guelph, Ontario in 2004. Dr. Near continued to practice medicine as a Locum at the Guelph General Hospital and in family medicine at Arbour Medical Centre in Guelph. From 2011 to 2012, he did maternity and other locums at The Guelph Family Health Team. Dr. Near was an Assistant Professor (Family Medicine) for McMaster University teaching first year medical students in a Guelph office setting. He also taught third year medical students through the Ministry of Health Preceptorship Program. Dr. Near was an examiner of International Medical Graduates and Examiner for Medical Council of Canada in London, Ontario.
Dr. Near retired from medicine in 2012.
Dr. and Mrs. Near enjoy travelling, golfing, tennis and playing bridge. They both have an avid interest in bird watching and nature. They are passing on their love of nature by volunteering their time to teach photography in a program called “Focus on Nature” to young students in Guelph schools. Dr. Near is also volunteering at the Senior Centre. They love to spend time with their children and grandchildren.