Clarence Stuart Houston






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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Houston, Dr. C. Stuart

Clarence Stuart Houston was born September 26, 1927 in Williston, North Dakota, the son of Drs. Clarence J. Houston and Sigridur (Sigga) Christianson Houston. He spent three months of his life in North Dakota, but moved with his general practitioner parents to Yorkton, Saskatchewan in1928.

Stuart’s mother was no stranger to Saskatchewan. She had made a similar migration there as a young girl. In 1905, Stuart’s maternal grandparents, Geir Christianson (Kristjansson) and Sesselja Rakel Sveinsdottir migrated from Grand Forks, North Dakota, to the Icelandic settlement of Vatnbyggð where they took up a homestead.

For two years there was no school, and in the third and fourth years on the farm, Sigga took Grade 7 and Grade 8. No high school was yet available in nearby Wynyard. Uncle Gisli at Loni Beach near Gimli gave Sigga ten dollars to buy a winter coat; this made it possible for her to move to Winnipeg, where she worked her way through high school. She got up at five a.m. in Mrs. Olson’s boarding house, to make breakfast for the drivers of the horse-drawn ambulances and hearses from Bardal’s Funeral Parlor.

She returned to Saskatchewan to attend “Normal School” (Teacher’s College) in Saskatoon and then taught in rural schools for three years, saving almost her entire salary. She then entered medical school in Winnipeg; in a burst of women’s suffrage immediately after the war, her class had 14 girls in a class of 60, a ratio not obtained for another fifty years. Each summer, she returned to Wynyard to teach in a country school, putting the students through a year’s studies before she caught the train on Friday night to attend medical school Monday morning. She thus earned sufficient money to pay her tuition and room and board in Winnipeg. She was the first Icelandic Canadian woman to obtain an M.D. degree in 1925.

Sigga married Clarence Houston from the class of 1926. Clarence and Sigga jointly operated a medical practice in Watford City, North Dakota, then moved to Yorkton, Saskatchewan early in 1928.


Sigga handled the office visits while Clarence attended to surgery and hospital visits. Sigga was a pioneer woman doctor whose excellent reputation drew patients, mainly infants failing to thrive, from more than a hundred miles away. Her patient load, and the fact that she also handled the office books, kept her very busy. Still, the fact that the Houston home was only two blocks away from the office made it possible for her to meet Stuart at home every day after school to give him an apple and send him off to play before returning to work for two more hours.

Stuart completed his secondary education at the Yorkton Collegiate Institute and then moved on to his parent’s former school, the University of Manitoba. He followed in their footsteps, graduating with an MD from the University of Manitoba in 1951, the same year he married Mary Isabel Belcher who had obtained her BA and BEd. Stuart and his bride moved back to Yorkton where he joined his parents’ general practice.

He practised in Yorkton from 1951-55, took a year of internal medicine and pediatrics at the new University Hospital in Saskatoon in 1955-56, to be a better family practitioner and returned to practice in Yorkton again, 1956-60.

In 1960 he moved to Saskatoon where he began training in Diagnostic Radiology in University Hospital. His studies were furthered by a year-long sojourn to the Children’s Hospital Medical Centre at Harvard University where he received the George Von L. Meyer Memorial Scholarship.

Stuart began his distinguished 32-year career in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, University of Saskatchewan in 1964, reaching the rank of Professor in 1969. He was head of the Department of Medical Imaging from July 1982- June 1987. In addition, Dr. Houston is the only MD to be elected Honourary President of the University of Saskatchewan Student Medical Society on three separate occasions (1973-74, 1987-88,1994-95).