Ethlyn Trapp

Ethlyn Trapp, physican, researcher (b at New Westminster, BC 18 Jul 1891; d at West Vancouver 31 Jul 1972). Ethlyn Trapp was the fourth of eight children of Thomas John Trapp and Nell Dockrill.

Trapp, Ethlyn

Ethlyn Trapp, physican, researcher (b at New Westminster, BC 18 Jul 1891; d at West Vancouver 31 Jul 1972). Ethlyn Trapp was the fourth of eight children of Thomas John Trapp and Nell Dockrill. She attended All Hallows School in Yale, BC, and later attended McGill University College in the vacant properties of the Vancouver City Hospital. She graduated from McGill University with a BA degree in 1913. During the First World War, as an occupational therapist, Trapp volunteered in military hospitals in Vancouver and Revelstoke and immediately after the war in the Balfour Sanatorium in the Kootenays. There she met and cared for a war veteran with whom she corresponded later in life; the experience appears to have given her some cause for regret. She met his children and shortly before her death wrote, "My life has been a fortunate one in so many ways - though not as I would have chosen."

Unsettled after the war, Trapp travelled widely in the Far East and then returned to McGill, graduating MD CM (Doctor of Medicine, Master of Surgery) in 1927. After a year in general practice she undertook training in radiotherapy in Vienna, Stockholm and London to become an assistant in radiation therapy at St Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. With plans to open a cancer clinic in Vancouver, she pursued further study in various European centres, including six months at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, England. Trapp played a significant role in the establishment of the BC Cancer Institute in 1938 and was its medical director during the latter years of the Second World War. Through Trapp's efforts as a member of the BC Medical Association in conjunction with others, especially the BC Cancer Foundation, the Institute survived the war years. Trapp then fully returned to private practice, which she conducted until 1960, and her efforts and council led to her being the first woman appointed as president of both the BC Medical Association (1946) and the National Cancer Institute of Canada (1952). She was recognized for her work with awards of Honorary Doctor of Science, Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Radiologists, UK, and the Order of Canada.

Outside her professional achievements, Trapp led a varied and full social life with interests in the arts and the natural world. She had a wide circle of friends in art and literature, which included Emily CARR. A world traveller and humanitarian, Ethlyn Trapp gained the respect and friendship of intellectuals, colleagues and children. After retirement she attended the University of British Columbia, studying horticulture, anthropology and sociology. Her gift of her home, Klee Wyck, an extensive property on the banks of the Capilano River in West Vancouver, to the municipality is just one example of her generosity as a benefactor.


Further Reading

  • Stewart Jackson. A life not chosen: The story of Ethlyn Trapp and her father (2009).