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From Grenfell Mission Orphanage to Janeway pediatric specialist, doctor writes autobiography

R. Clifton "Cliff" Way has written an autobiography, “A well-traveled Way,” outlining his upbringing on the Northern Peninsula, to his work at the Janeway Children’s Hospital, and as a professor at McMaster University.
R. Clifton "Cliff" Way has written an autobiography, “A well-traveled Way,” outlining his upbringing on the Northern Peninsula, to his work at the Janeway Children’s Hospital, and as a professor at McMaster University.

Orphaned at 11 years of age, R. Clifton “Cliff” Way still found a way to become a successful doctor and professor.

Now, people can read all about how the young boy from the tiny Northern Peninsula community of Flower’s Cove overcame the death of his parents, received tutelage at the Grenfell Mission Orphanage in St. Anthony, and excelled in the medical and teaching fields.

Dr. Way began his autobiography, “A well-traveled Way,” some 20 years ago to connect his family to their heritage and his past. As he’s come to realize, the paperback, is also a desired piece of history for the people of the Northern Peninsula.

As he has done many times over the years, Way — who, after a 14-year tenure at the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s, became professor of pediatrics and director of the pediatric cardiology service at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario — recently travelled to the Northern Peninsula, where he still has family connections. This time his visit coincided with his book launch, and he scheduled a number of book signings. However, by the time he arrived in St. Anthony, he had no more books to sign or sell.

“I didn’t know how to deal with this business of organizing a book signing with no books,” he said.

It didn’t prove to be a deterrent, as people placed orders to have copies of the book sent to them.

“(The response) was far greater than I anticipated,” he said. “I am just happy if people can know my story. I feel it is something that’s part of the record of the Grenfell Mission’s good work in the north, and that means a lot to me.”

Way lost his mother to tuberculosis at the age of seven. Just four years later, his father died of a brain tumor. He was left in the care of his grandparents, who agreed to let him foster the penchant he showed for academics by transferring to the Grenfell School in St. Anthony. There, he spent two years in the care of those at the Grenfell Mission Orphanage.

This greater pursuit of education, and the mission’s embrace of Christianity, instilled within him a need to serve others. With the support, emotional and financial, of the mission; he would leave at the age of 15 to continue his education in Quebec. He went on to graduate from McGill University’s medical school.

He returned to St. Anthony as a doctor for a year in the 1960s — an opportunity to give back — but his quest to specialize in pediatric cardiology led him to the newly opened Janeway in 1967. He left there for McMaster University in 1981, and retired in 1996.

His work as a professor was important to him, but his fondest memories are those as a doctor in Newfoundland.

“I remained a Newfoundlander at heart all my life, and it is always a joy to come back,” he said. “It was a real joy to work here during that time.”

Way was also involved in the start up of the Memorial University medical school in the late 1960s, he said.

He also went to St. John’s last week for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Janeway.

Now, people can read all about how the young boy from the tiny Northern Peninsula community of Flower’s Cove overcame the death of his parents, received tutelage at the Grenfell Mission Orphanage in St. Anthony, and excelled in the medical and teaching fields.

Dr. Way began his autobiography, “A well-traveled Way,” some 20 years ago to connect his family to their heritage and his past. As he’s come to realize, the paperback, is also a desired piece of history for the people of the Northern Peninsula.

As he has done many times over the years, Way — who, after a 14-year tenure at the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s, became professor of pediatrics and director of the pediatric cardiology service at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario — recently travelled to the Northern Peninsula, where he still has family connections. This time his visit coincided with his book launch, and he scheduled a number of book signings. However, by the time he arrived in St. Anthony, he had no more books to sign or sell.

“I didn’t know how to deal with this business of organizing a book signing with no books,” he said.

It didn’t prove to be a deterrent, as people placed orders to have copies of the book sent to them.

“(The response) was far greater than I anticipated,” he said. “I am just happy if people can know my story. I feel it is something that’s part of the record of the Grenfell Mission’s good work in the north, and that means a lot to me.”

Way lost his mother to tuberculosis at the age of seven. Just four years later, his father died of a brain tumor. He was left in the care of his grandparents, who agreed to let him foster the penchant he showed for academics by transferring to the Grenfell School in St. Anthony. There, he spent two years in the care of those at the Grenfell Mission Orphanage.

This greater pursuit of education, and the mission’s embrace of Christianity, instilled within him a need to serve others. With the support, emotional and financial, of the mission; he would leave at the age of 15 to continue his education in Quebec. He went on to graduate from McGill University’s medical school.

He returned to St. Anthony as a doctor for a year in the 1960s — an opportunity to give back — but his quest to specialize in pediatric cardiology led him to the newly opened Janeway in 1967. He left there for McMaster University in 1981, and retired in 1996.

His work as a professor was important to him, but his fondest memories are those as a doctor in Newfoundland.

“I remained a Newfoundlander at heart all my life, and it is always a joy to come back,” he said. “It was a real joy to work here during that time.”

Way was also involved in the start up of the Memorial University medical school in the late 1960s, he said.

He also went to St. John’s last week for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Janeway.

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