Cal Connor first played football for the Gaels in 1958, when he was in the first year of his undergraduate degree.
He took the following year off from both school and sports, going back home to Hamilton, Ont., to work in a steel mill. After that year, he knew he wanted to come back to university, but he still didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life.
Back at Queen’s in 1960, he continued on with his studies and rejoined the Gaels, making a name for himself on the football field. He also met some key people who first sparked his interest in medicine and later helped him balance the workload of medical school and his sports commitments. Some were faculty, like the late Dr. Hal Dunlop, MD’43, and Dr. Jack Kerr, Meds’53, both also team doctors for the Gaels. Of the latter, Cal says, “He had a lot to do with keeping me in the right direction,” during his hectic med school days.
Connor also got inspiration from other players a few years ahead of him, like David Skene, Arts’59, Meds’63 (who played both hockey and football at Queen’s) and the late Terry Porter, MD’63, who also played football through his medical school days.
Connor continued to play football during his four years of medical school. “It was quite demanding,” he says modestly, “but somehow I was able to get all my ducks in a row.”
He led his team to three intercollegiate titles, became team co-captain in 1965, and won the Jenkins Trophy (awarded to a male athlete in honour of scholastic achievement and leadership as well as athletic prowess.) Back in the day before the five-year eligibility rule came into effect for university players, it wasn’t unusual for players in law, business, or medical school to have six- or seven-year football careers.
After graduation, Connor walked away from football with mixed emotions. He loved the game, but he had found his calling as a doctor, and medicine became his sole passion.
He interned at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston and, in 1967, Dr. Cal Connor set up his general practice in the city’s west end.
For 48 years, he served the Kingston community as a family doctor. In recent years, his patients were the children and grandchildren of some of his original patients. And though he retired from his general practice this spring, Dr. Connor still makes house calls, of a sort. He is involved in patient care at a local long-term care facility.
Read more about the “Silver Sixties” era of Gaels football, in an excerpt from Gael Force by Merv Daub, Com’66, Professor Emeritus, Business (Gaels middle linebacker, 1962-65; co-captain, 1965; assistant coach, 1976-78 and 1991; and a member of the Queen’s Football Hall of Fame.)