Beloved Dentist: Dr Hoe

2nd and 3rd generation

Thompson’s first dentist was talented in many pursuits

By Ian Graham / Thompson Citizen

JUNE 5, 2013 03:00 AM

Thompson’s first dentist, Dr. William Hoe, seen here inspecting a young patient’s mouth and below posing with his son Andrew by the Burntwood River with the old Bailey Bridge in the background, died in Red Deer, Alberta on April 21 at the age of 80. Hoe moved to Thompson from The Pas in the early 1960s and practised dentistry here until moving to Red Deer in 1975.


Dr. William Hoe, the first dentist to set up shop in Thompson and a founding member of both the Thompson Ski Club and the Thompson Golf Club, died April 21 in Red Deer, Alberta where he moved in 1975. He was 80 years old.

Born in Moose Jaw and raised in Manitou, Manitoba, where his father, an immigrant from China, owned the Broadway Café, Hoe was one of eight children in his family, all of whom worked in the restaurant growing up. After graduating from the University of Alberta in 1959, Hoe married Jennie Chow and they moved to The Pas where their first son Andrew was born in 1961. At about that time, Hoe began travelling to Thompson to provide dental services for a week at a time and soon moved to the city to become its first dentist.

Florian Soble, the first pharmacist in Thompson, who moved to town in 1960, met Hoe when he was still living in The Pas and remembers the dental equipment former local government district administrator Carl Nesbitt procured for the town’s newest professional, whose first office was in the public safety building.

“Everything was foot-powered, including the drill,” said Soble.

Hoe later moved his office into the Professional Building before eventually moving into the Cameron-Hoe Building on Churchill Drive, often referred to as the Churchill Building, which he and lawyer Donald Cameron had built.

Hoe’s eldest son, Andrew, who is now a dentist himself, said his father had more patients than he could handle when he was the only dentist in town and recruited help from Winnipeg to help him bear the load.

“He would hire new graduates from the University of Manitoba as associates, and they would work for him as associates,” Andrew said in an e-mail. “I have memories of young dentists, like Allan Baker (now an orthodontist in Winnipeg), living with us for a while until they could find a place to live.”

“I think he was a very, very good dentist,” said Carol Soble, the wife of Florian, both of whom were close with the Hoe family in Thompson and remained so after they left town in 1975, often visiting their old friends in Red Deer or hosting them at their home in Winnipeg. “I know we still have, or I do, fillings that were put in by Bill Hoe and you know, we’re getting on, that’s a long time ago.”

Florian says he still has crowns put in by Hoe, who’d told him at the time that they would probably last for 20 years.

“It’s been a lot longer than that,” says Florian.

The Sobles, whose son Kyle is the godson of Hoe and his wife, and who are the godparents of Dana Hoe, the daughter of William and Jennie, remember Hoe as an excellent sportsman and bridge player who was also very modest.

“He was an excellent curler,” said Florian, who used to curl on a team with Hoe and a couple of other men in the two-sheet curling rink that was located on Thompson Drive, roughly across from where the Shell gas station is now. “And of course it was natural ice and cold as hell.”

Florian says Hoe was at home in the outdoors, and remembers him as a good fisherman, who could filet two fish in the amount of time it took Florian to get started on just one.

He was also skilled at indoor games, Carol says.

“There was no entertainment so you had to make your own entertainment so bridge became a big deal,” she remembers. “We all learned how if we didn’t know how. Bill was an amazing bridge player.”

He kept up with athletic pursuits after leaving for Red Deer, too. As noted in his obituary, he recorded five holes-in-one during his time as a member of the Red Deer Golf & Country Club.

“Do you know how modest he was? ” says Carol. “I didn’t know until I actually read the obit that he had five holes-in-one. That’s the kind of guy he was. He would just do it and he would never talk about it. He might say something if you asked him about it but he’d never talk about it.”

The Hoe family, which also included another son Grant, left for Alberta in 1975 and Florian remembers saying goodbye.

“I remember the day they left town in their two cars and we all drove to Clear Lake and spent the weekend there and then they took off to Red Deer and we came back to Thompson.,” says Florian, who visited the Hoes with Carol until about three years ago. “They visited in Winnipeg and we visited in Red Deer. Bill and I would go for a long walk every morning. It was really nice.”

Carol said she spoke with Jennie just a few days before her husband’s death and says it’s sad to realize they won’t see him anymore.

“We have good memories and nothing but good memories of Bill,” says Carol. “Very much the gentleman, a super man. He was, I think, one of the nicest men I have ever met in my life. He was a very, extremely intelligent person. He had a lot of talent.”

“When they left Thompson, it was a real loss for Thompson because he did a lot of things for the people of Thompson and the town and everybody and he did the same thing in Red Deer,” said Florian.

Hoe is survived by Jennie, to whom he was married for 53 years, as well as his children, two grandchildren and his brother James Hoe and sister Betty Duncan.

Interact with us using Facebook

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.