Embracing Life in the Okanagan

Embracing Life in the Okanagan

October 07, 2018

After more than 20 years of family practice in the UK, Dr. Peter Entwistle and his family were looking to emigrate. “I was dissatisfied with where medicine seemed to be going, and was very frustrated at the constraints that I felt were being put on me to provide the care that I wanted to give. Both Michelle and I wanted more opportunities for our sons,” he said. “We thought we’d end up in Australia or New Zealand.”

When they were on holiday in Ontario, they first started to think of Canada. They researched various possibilities, and then contacted Health Match BC. They travelled throughout BC and explored communities in the Interior, the greater Vancouver area, and Vancouver Island.

It was Michelle who finally decided on the Okanagan region. "It just felt really welcoming; the physicians and the people generally," she said. "We loved the lakes and the vineyards; it is all so very beautiful and the climate is so much milder than what I expected.”

Settled into school

One question mark was about schools. “We wanted to be sure we picked the right school. I came over with Tom, my younger son, and we visited several possible high schools before deciding on the best fit,” noted Peter. “We were a bit apprehensive, but they both settled in to their new schools very quickly. I think their cute English accents may have helped them make girlfriends easily." Their eldest son, James, has now graduated and, after taking a year off, is planning to attend Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

In their free time, the Entwistles enjoy all that the Okanagan region - and BC - have to offer. “We’ve all started skiing, which we had never done before. The boys really took to it, but snowboarding is their winter passion,” said Peter. The family also bikes together on the local Kettle Valley Railroad. Their more adventurous sons mountain bike around the hills of their lake-view home. And this summer, they had an amazing experience sea-kayaking off Vancouver Island.

Since their arrival three years ago, the family has expanded in number with the addition of Monty, a chocolate Labrador dog. “He made everything feel more permanent,” they both said.

Financially better off

Michelle, a trained midwife, is working as a birth attendant and is taking steps toward gaining her full midwifery license in BC. The transition was smoother for Peter, who, after some additional training, is working both on the wards and in the ER, something he did not do in the UK. “The work is great, and I’ve had a lot of support. I really love the way I am able to care for my patients in hospital and find my working day both more varied and stimulating than in the UK.” He added: "Financially, we are way better off than before, and I have a lot more freedom and flexibility in terms of choosing my hours.”

What has been hard to get used to? “Well, I still feel as though I am driving on the wrong side of the street,” concluded Peter. “I have to get up in the middle of the night if I want to watch the British soccer games. And I have to remember to call soccer “soccer”, and not football.”

Originally posted August 30, 2011.